Under overcast skies on Sunday, the Brudenell Social Club began to fill up with people eager for Gold Sounds: a festival only in its second incarnation, that still brought in some of the most interesting acts in the alternative and DIY scene at the moment. Headlined by stateside heavyweights Merchandise, with appearances from emo twiddlers turned pop shredders Nai Harvest, and the up-and-coming Cheatahs in possession of enough fuzz to fry anyone’s brain, Gold Sounds was full of moments to prove not just that punk ain’t dead, but that it’s kicking your front door down demanding to be let in, demanding to be heard.
Trust Fund, the stage name of Bristol’s Ellis Jones, stepped on stage like the friend your mum wants you to marry; like he wasn’t about to rip your heart out with his voice, like he didn’t know. Accompanied by a drummer and a bassist, the lo-fi songs cover heartbreak, awkward break-ups and walks on the beach. Unashamedly vulnerable, Jones’ voice soars and sweetens, keening “I’m scared I’m scared I’m scared”, and just as everything threatens to crack and fall into Elliott Smith levels of misery, the thumping bass drum and soft guitars bring the songs back onto the right side of melancholy. Salt-soaked and breathless, Trust Fund leave you gasping for more.
Straight from that, Girlpool came smashing into the Brudenell like a 2 woman juggernaut. Hailing from Los Angeles, their running basslines and bluesy, unsympathetic guitar riffs serve as a background for Cleo and Harmony’s voices that croon, scream and holler. “Jane” is a highlight: lyrics that encourage young women to “put your fists up”, with blood-curdling scream in the background. Girlpool sing about the anger and confusion entailed with being a teenage girl, but also with just being human. In an industry that so often casts female musicians as shrill or screeching, Girlpool are too loud to be dismissed. They are brave and raw-bone strong and you had better sit back and listen.
A final highlight of the festival was the Spanish four-piece Deers, all female but never to be called a “girl band”. Shifting tempos and joyful shouts characterise their songs, and an infectious energy combined with pure sex appeal spread out into the audience.
Gold Sounds was a day of shuttling between rooms full of passionate, screaming, eager noise that showed there is still space for guitar music to covey authentic emotion, and that a four chord song can still hit you in the centre of your chest and leave you reeling, even days later.
photos: prettymuchamazing.com, inthejunkyardmusic.co.uk