For anyone unaware, Honeyblood is a pop-duo who are riding high on a fuzzy wave; they have an excellently melodic debut album behind them (just now gearing up for number two) and last week took to Murrayfield to warm the stadium up for Foo Fighters.
Martha Ffion and The Van T’s have been invited to The Art School for the same reason this evening and having heard of both through various social media channels, but unwisely sleeping on actually bothering to check them out, I go to the venue ear-blind, hoping that they’ll impress.
The Van T’s are first to tackle a typically timid early audience that doesn’t really reciprocate the grungy, pummelling chugs of the young rockers, but everyone moves forward when asked anyway and the atmosphere slowly shifts to feel more open and welcoming.
Fronted by duel female vocals from the Thompson twins, the emphasis of their sound undeniably sways in favour of energy over bells-and-whistles musicianship, but this old school, punky approach is probably one of the reasons that attention has been finding its way to them.
In a (very American) word: badass.
The Van T’s are badass.
Martha Ffion then takes us from the 90’s to the 50’s and 60’s, with the kind of sugary rhythms that white suburbanites feared would turn their innocent children into Satan worshipping sex monsters.
In other words, Ffion’s fun and upbeat performance channels the spiritual soundtrack of a day void of responsibility at the beach.
Her backing band also deserve a mention for being polished and rough-round-the-edges at the same time, and they add a tonne to the vibe.
The atmosphere once again changes when Honeyblood grab their instruments and get going.
It’s an undeniable smack of headliner-ness that fills the air and even though the two supports did well, Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers show that the live chops developed over the weeks and months of touring can’t truly be honed any other way.
Tweeddale is a chirpy, natural frontwoman and she wails the first few words in ‘Fall Forever’ with shiver-inducing conviction.
This first song more or less encapsulates what Honeyblood’s sound is: sweet, riot girl vocals; punk drums; reverb and fuzz laden guitar.
It’s a bit of a shame, but the audience (myself included) largely don’t seem able to make the transition from the awkward observer to the participating jumper-arounder that would accompany the music so well (though kudos to the girl at the front going mental).
Honeyblood glide through their set with enthusiasm anyway and Tweeddale gets a laugh when she tells that the song ‘(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here’ is about Glasgow “in the sweetest way possible”.
They play some new songs too, and though there seems to be some apprehension about whether the crowd will like them or not, they take their winning formula and build on it in a way that shows definite progression without trying too hard to create something new and fresh.
‘Super Rat’ for me is the absolute highlight of tonight, starting off with a gentle swing and ending with an aggressive punch.
This is the first time I’ve seen the band so I didn’t hear them with the former and original drummer, but tonight Myers absolutely tears this track apart, thrashing away and putting herself ahead of any other rock drummers I’ve seen in recent memory.
It’s genuinely a very inspired performance that absolutely nails the balance between playing to add to the songs and sweeping the room with high-velocity fills that never seem self-indulgent.
So inspired in fact that Tweeddale has arranged to mark the one year anniversary of Myers joining with a cake and some socks adorned by cats and lightning bolts.
The show certainly isn’t short of quirks, with a third member even being plucked from the audience at one point to play tin whistle on a song.
Tweeddale exclaims how lame encores are before a solo performance of ‘Kissing on You’ and they end on a high of fuzzy rock with ‘No Spare Key’.
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Words: Greg Murray
Photos: Stewart Fullerton