Watching a band open for Wolf Alice and Alt-J in the mammoth O2 arena in London, then almost 2 years later seeing them from a crowd of 100 or so as headliners in Leeds is a somewhat disconcerting experience, but one that makes for an interesting comparison.
Some bands really do flourish in a smaller venue space, and Gengahr are one such band. In the aforementioned gigantic arena, they gave a good show in terms of musicality, but failed to fully engage with their performance and audience. This was not the case at the Nation of Shopkeepers, where each of the four band members seemed to genuinely enjoy what they were doing, chatting with the crowd in between songs. Felix discussed this in more detail with In the Middle back in September and their confidence definitely showed on this occasion.
Gengahr’s set list was a 50/50 split between new work and popular tracks from their debut album A Dream Outside, including ‘Heroine’, ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’ and closer ‘She’s a Witch’, each of which saw the audience singing and bobbing along. This current tour of smaller, intimate venues is a valuable chance for the band to preview some of their new music, which sees them leaning away from the characteristically eerie, falsetto vocals of singer Felix Bushe, and more towards a, dare I say it, catchier sound. The rhythm and melodies have become far more slick and refined, particularly in the choruses, but without losing the trademark psycho-pop influences that Gengahr fans have grown to love.
Support came from Plaza, whose combination of jangled guitar melodies and deep vocals would not sound out of place on a Foals album. They were followed by Caro who provided a softer, harmonious sound that swept the audience away for half an hour before Gengahr headlined.
Overall Gengahr show great potential to grow further as a band, and from what I heard on Wednesday, their second album is going to be one to watch out for when it’s released next year.
All photos by Clare Redman