A bassline reverberates around the room. Just two notes, droning over a simple beat from the drums. The lead singer, dressed in a tight tan leather jacket with a cravat over his black tshirt, speaks gently in the microphone through his moustache and overgrown fringe. Before bursting into earsplitting chords.
Soon joined by shouty lyrics, the music rumbles the brick wall and neon lights at the back of the room. Bungalows and Bears, our venue for the evening, was previously a fire station, now only recognisable by the tall shutters across the front. The band, Femur, are based locally in Sheffield and describe their music as ‘Shoegaze infused with grunge, garage and indie’. The crowd, mostly a selection of longer haired students with retro jackets and some older locals, watch enthusiastically as the lead guitarist jumps to the beat and dances around the small stage. It’s head banging stuff, but only the warm up.
The second band, of the three that are playing tonight, are called the Amazons. Formed less than two years ago, they’ve just released their first EP ‘Don’t you wanna?’, having toured Germany with the Kooks last year. I met up with them beforehand and asked how they reacted when they found out. ‘It was a massive shock for us… we were going nuts… Screaming, running around the garden with our tops off’.
It’s impressive stuff from these four twenty-somethings from Reading. They described the difficulties of being a small band touring the country. ‘You drive for hours to a show in… we’ll say Middlesbrough… and it’ll be a packed room but a club night and no one wants to watch you and no one claps and that’s definitely a downer’. Matt, the lead singer, continues: ‘but then you play at Reading Festival and release your EP and those are definitely highlights’. It’s definitely been a packed year for the band, and their enthusiasm is evident in not just their answers but their music.
As they burst into the bouncy opening of ‘Ultraviolet’, the crowd loosens up, and soon it’s impossible not to nod along with the powerful offbeat drumming in the chorus. Arguably the best song of the EP, this felt like the highlight of the set, but it was a shame that the more tender lyrics of the song were overpowered by the guitars, because they’re not to be overlooked. ‘I was waiting for my phone to call/ or just some message that you cared at all’.
I ‘d asked Matt, who wrote the lyrics for the song, if it was about anyone in particular: ‘It’s more about a situation really, when you contact a girl, put your neck out, and it’s just that kind of horrible wait for them to message back. It’s very introspective’. I imagine most of the crowd would empathise, if they could hear the lyrics.
Scattered among the EP were some other songs, notably one about badgers being caught in headlights, which caused someone next to me to question whether they’d heard correctly. By the end of the set, it was hard not to be enthusiastic about the Amazons. They have a clear, upbeat sound and are a charming bunch of guys. I’m excited to see what they have in store for us when they release a single, later this year.
The final act of the night, the Orielles, a two-thirds female trio from Halifax, followed the long haired trend set by the previous bands. Their chilled vibe contrasted effectively with the more serious other bands, though it sounded more rock and roll than their online releases. The more relaxed, almost lazy vocals felt right at home in the fashionable bar. I couldn’t help but agree with Matt from the Amazons, who described them succinctly: ‘the boy and girl vocals are sick’. They’re currently touring the UK and performing in Toronto before the release of their EP, ‘Jobin’. The trio finished the set with a long, booming song, the tempo alternating between slow and fast before bursting into a cacophony of chords to suitably end the night.