Tonight at The Lighthouse, the bands form only one of a number of events at The Lighthouse Late, an evening featuring talks, workshops, two films, a market, a DJ and burlesque, besides the gig.
It’s a cool place to hang out for an evening, just by being surrounded by stuff to look at, at this sort of mini-festival.
First act, Edinburgh ‘queer-trans-pop-punk’ act The Spook School, are sneeringly frantic and noisy, with a brand of power pop in the vein of The Only Ones and Violent Femmes, drawn through the lens of the noise rock of the likes of No Age or Wavves.
A facade of effortlessness disguises some keenly structured three-part harmonies, and songs that take clever about-turns and shifts.
The live set up is such that crash cymbals dominate the sound, but it’s such that the moments where the music cuts out and the three vocalists are left exposed are all the more violent and jarring.
Apache Darling is a highlight of the evening, playing bombastic synthpop that unabashedly embraces anthemic 80s pop rock and power ballads.
A largely a capella, and incomplete, rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ acts as a pointer to Apache Darling’s influences with regards to huge, theatrical, emotional pieces, with a strong focus on melody.
When lead singer Stefanie Lawrence quietly thanks the crowd for moving forward, then forgets the next song Apache Darling are playing, it’s a jolting experience to see her so unimposing just after hearing such a powerful voice.
Third on are Supermoon, a new name for Meursault, fronted by singer-songwriter Neil Pennycook, an outfit whose sound has developed from Meursault’s lo-fi indie-folk roots into lavish, lush ballads.
Pennycook remains consistently at the peak or near the peak of his emotion throughout, while the music accompanying provides all the emotional nuance and suspense.
It’s a particular phenomenon of Pennycook’s music to a particular note at the peak of his range he hits over and over through the set, that could be the crux of many another song, but is repeated until it becomes just a feature, but this is suited to the 30 minute set, where this level of intensity doesn’t tire.
Headliners FOUND are an art collective and band with a changing lineup, best known for creating an emotional robot band called Cybraphon that responds to how much online attention it’s receiving.
This lineup is a reserved band for a headline act, a band that perhaps willfully forgoes accessibility for experimentation and surprise.
The band plays with having the immediate impression of a less complex indie band – Foals, Bombay Bicycle Club, say – but the songs are filled with more experimental touches that rise up out of the murk, that don’t reveal themselves instantly.
A synth riff builds in a couple of songs that quietly bubbles until it explodes in a burst of noise.
There are exciting ideas in the performance, but it’s not always clear what the band is trying for – the set is made up of reimaginings of all sorts of styles that aren’t always clear, some songs sounding like ironic appropriations of styles, some not.
Words: Tony Boardman
Photos: Stewart Fullerton