19 Oct 2014

The Wytches/Piano Wire/Otis Elliott / live at The Joiners, Southampton

The Wytches are very much the band of the moment; you need just one look around this blog to see just how much we think of them. Their latest tour, the one in support of their debut LP Annabel Dream Reader is their longest, biggest to date, seeing the Brighton-based surf goths tour with the likes of Telegram, God Damn, Otis Elliot and Piano Wire. This Thursday (16/10) they took to The Joiners to their unique brand of neo-psychedelia, alongside singer-songwriter Otis Elliott and Piano Wire, one of the most exciting new bands in the world.
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Otis Elliott with Kristian Bell
before the show.

The first artist to take to the stage was London-based singer-songwriter Otis Elliott; the calm before the storm. His half an hour acoustic set saw the floppy haired singer-songwriter trundle through a series of Elliott Smith-esque songs. He was subdued throughout, but his soothing voice and forlorn lyrics sounded just like they could have been old-Elliott Smith demos. His set wasn't awash with originality, and the lyrics of lost love were verging on cliché, but it was more than enjoyable to watch his short but sweet set. (15/20)

After that, the acoustic stylings of Elliott were left behind immediately; Velouria by Pixies played over the speaker system, and Piano Wire took to the stage. They've only been together as a band for less than a year, and although the four-piece consist of two ex-members of the legendary Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Sym Gharial and Andy Huxley, they've already put that behind them; they've already written albums worth of new songs together.

Their set started off with the viceral Fossils. (one of two tracks they've put up online, hear it here) Immediately, they seemed tight, together, and incredibly energetic, as they stormed through Fossils confidently; ex-Eighties Matchbox Huxley taking the majority of vocal duties.
 Through the set, their revamped sound was mesmeric. The songs followed a more classic verse-chorus song format ("I've been listening to a lot of Elliott Smith") than Eighties Matchbox, but the attitude and pace was there still.

Society, the first song they put online, might have been the set's highlight; a catchy chorus barked by drummer Lenny Verralis fused perfectly with the hard riffs of the band. The band were very well recieved, but crowd reaction was a bit piss poor; if ever there was a support set that deserved some kinda moshpit it was this support set.

The band's set closer, Crushing Violet was the set's undoubted highlight; it built up and up, like a psychobilly Leave Them All Behind. The band leaped around the stage until the set reached it's hectic conclusion, and the guitars were left dropped against the amps in a Holocaust Section kinda manner. Piano Wire are going to be every bit as big as The Wytches, in the not so distant future. (18/20)

Piano Wire soundchecking
They Wytches took to the stage in an inconspicuous fashion; only to be mobbed by the cheers of the crowd. I almost think they're like an upcoming cult band; they seem to have a fanbase consisting only of people who really think thus; The Wytches are something special. The three-piece boldly opened their set with an all-new song; loud, with a heavier chorus than verse, it was textbook Wytches. It was promising, but nothing special; what I think was special was what followed; the fuzzed out outro morphed into a whammy bar powered wah wah sound, coming from Kristian Bell's guitar.

The band kicked into the subsuming grunge of Digsaw, the opening track off Annabel Dream Reader. The more Bleach-era angst-fuelled material continued with new single Burn Out The Bruise (our review's here) and it's two-stepping tiptoeing bassline sending the full 150 capacity crowd into a bit of a frenzy. Throughout The Wytches' long set, the middle of The Joiners was one huge moshpit; about 50% male, 50% female, which is slightly less discomforting than when a moshpit is six tattooed guys gunning for each other.

Gravedweller was spectacular live, matched only in spectacle by sheer volume. Robe For Juda showed just how aggressive Kristian Bell's vocals are when they need to be, and Wide At Midnight packed a surprising amount of punch, considering how much of a buzzkill it is on Annabel Dream Reader.

Throughout, the temperature increased gradually, until it was just too hot to comprehend. The cries of "Kristian! Kristian! Can I have a sip of your water?" were graciously met by the wytch handing his water out to the crowd. (God bless u Kristian) "Fuck it's hot in here... Pretend this song's a big fan to cool you down" he said, before the band played the waltzing Weights and Ties off of the album. Audience interactivity was a big part of The Wytches' set, and the atmosphere was nice for all the chaos.

But it wasn't the album tracks that made the gig fantastic. Darker, the B-side to Burn Out The Bruise is pretty much the perfect pop song, and it really got a stunning crowd reaction. A surprising amount of people managed to belt out the chorus of "I know it's not a game but I'm in it to win it", which begs the question as to why it wasn't on the LP. Wire Frame Mattress' other side, The Holy Tightrope's apocalyptic wails and frenzied choruses made The Joiners erupt like the world was about to end.

Crying Clown's almost iconic "Like a pendulum" has closed their sets throughout the tour, so when it came to it's glorious end, the venue went quiet; an air of admiration wafted in The Wytches direction. But it didn't end there; the set closed with the most manic most psychotic number in their discography; EP track She's So Far Out. It's crazy stop-start mentality brought the hour-long set to its hectic conclusion in the most unbelievable way.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that The Wytches were absolutely amazing, but they blew away even my high expectations. Their stunning debut and it's supplementing b-sides were perfect at The Joiners, and combined with support from Piano Wire - the next huge thing - The Wytches look to be a band that can do no wrong. There is one worry, however; it's sad to think they might not play 150-capacity venues like The Joiners again.

19/20

(written by calum cashin)