Gengahr + Low Island
The Haunt, Brighton
May 2 2018
Words/Pictures: Steve Willcox
At the end of a bright and sunny Brighton day, London's Gengahr pull into town to play one of the last shows on their current ‘Where Wildness Grows’ tour.
Opening proceedings tonight are Oxford four-piece Low Island. Subject of a recent Little Indie Sing & Tell interview, I was still rather surprised to see about 100 twentysomethings already filling the room, listening intently and swaying to their infectious, jangly synthpop sound.
Their set, with some great catchy melodies and Carlos Posada looking every bit the frontman, has a rich falsetto that works well alongside keyboardist Jamie Jay who also accompanies on vocals at times. ‘That Kinda Love’ has a synth driven and a bass heavy vibe that reminds me of 90s band ‘The Beloved’. It's a tidy little set that is appreciated by the audience, and I think they could be a band we are destined to hear more from.
After a short break and with crowd numbers now building up to near capacity, there is palpable anticipation for headliners Gengahr. With their second album released in March it's to be expected they will give it a good outing, and without any palava they arrive on stage and launch straight into the album's slow, psych-influenced opener ‘Is This How You Love’, followed by a more livelier ‘Heroine’, a track that dates back to 2015's debut. 'A Dream Outside'; the latter particularly revels in Felix Bushe’s falsetto tones and John Victor’s guitar skills.
The new album's ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ is a pure joy to hear live, along with a great riff throughout with Felix bringing in some fresh vocals in an almost spoken word form away from his usual falsetto, and ‘Before Sunrise’ with a reggae guitar feel to it, brings a little fragrant tropical paradise to a dark and humid room - it also sets off the most friendliest of mosh pits I’ve ever witnessed.
‘Embers’ starts with some train effect drumbeats by Danny Ward and mixed with Felix’s vocals, it doesn’t quite match up and becomes disjointed, but when the chorus hits and the guitars rage in, it all then starts to make sense and becomes a great little number. ‘Pull Over’ has some nice haunting guitar licks, with soft atmospheric lighting surrounding them, Felix’s voice almost sounds like it’s coming from A-ha’s Morten Harket.
‘Mallory’ sets the audience dancing as they start to recognise its opening catchy riffs, before it segues into ‘Burning Air’ where one of their fans decides to get up and boogie on stage alongside his idols. The sharp bite of ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’ is an obvious fan favourite with plenty of movement in the mosh pit and gesturing along to the lyrics.
‘Where Wildness Grows’ brings the set to a close with its slow beat and blistering guitars, Felix wears his heart on his sleeve here and emotionally delivers a punch to the chest with some cracking vocals.
With the stage now empty, this baying crowd ate not to be appeased without an encore. Happy to oblige, Gengahr return to deliver ‘Lonely As A Shark’, all "soft in the middle" with Felix soon joined by the others as the song picks up pace and becomes a very danceable number. The night concludes with what the band have described as one of their hardest hitting tracks. ‘Carrion’ certainly pulls no punches with its rise and fall guitars, deep rhythm section and Felix's vocal dropping in pitch to drive home the biting lyrics. A stage invasion ensues before the song ends, with at least 20 dancing fans crammed onto the platform with their idols, not letting up until the very last drop of sound had run dry. Mesmerising.