“Alright, let’s have some fun,” says Tom Elliott as ENNOR kick off their headline set at The Finsbury. And fun is exactly what they deliver as part of London’s annual Blogtober Fest, 31 gigs in a row curated by the best online tastemakers. Tonight is RockShot Mag’s turn and, in addition to the headliners from Cornwall, we’ve picked two young rock bands from the capital, BABYTEETH and Lavender Hills.
They couldn’t be more different. The latter, a Brixton-based quartet named for the location of their underground rehearsal studio, kick off the night with a 30-minute set of punchy indie-rock anthems containing traces of the sound and swagger of Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.
There’s the confidence of forthcoming single Who’s Talking, the heartbreak of Life Away (a ballad with lines like “orange juice with heartache on toast”), the mid-tempo swing of Searching For The Day (complete with a punchy bassline from Beaumont Chivers and some flamboyant drum fills by Joe Gunstone), and the pent-up energy of Monkey, a song so new it doesn’t have a finalised title.
But it’s on flat-out recent single Never Coming Back Again that the band really come together, with singer Luke Spiers pushing his voice into top gear and guitarist Adrian Morat laying down jagged riffs and a slick solo over a galloping rhythm.
Up next are BABYTEETH, a female-centric quintet as big on attitude as hooks. Chatty, charismatic singer-guitarist Camilla Roholm laughs off a cold (“I’ve been sick all week, so I sound extra ‘sick’”) and leads the group through one irresistible potential hit after another. Hole and The Runaways seem like obvious influences on their grunge-garage-punk template, but the poppier edge of newer groups like The Pretty Reckless and Hey Violet also bleeds through into a sound that’s perfect for rock radio and, especially, the live arena.
Roholm doesn’t just point, pout, pose, prowl, and purr like the best of them, she belts out one huge chorus after another as the band throw out hook after hook behind her. Siamese Twin, which uses the quiet-loud-quiet dynamic to maximum effect, wouldn’t sound out of place on the fantastic Celebrity Skin (the Hole album that had Courtney Love emulating Fleetwood Mac). Shame is easily good enough to be played on the BBC Radio 1 Rock Show with Daniel P Carter (and was), while earworm Cocoon should follow suit when released as the next single.
January, which is big on Samantha Lubin’s powerhouse drumming, bass player Rio Hellyer’s tight grooves, and some slick soloing from head-banging lead guitarist Eilidh McKellar, is the kind of open-air anthem that’s seen them earn slots at festivals like Kendal Calling and Live At Leeds. And brand-new song Lies, which explodes into a monster chorus propelled by low-key guitarist Sam Hammond, is surely one of the reason’s they’ll be supporting a UK post-punk legend at Roundhouse on 19th December.
ENNOR, tonight’s headliners, may not be as edgy but the Cornwall quartet are no less passionate. Although their songs are rooted in earnest singer-songwriter fare that could be performed by one man and his acoustic guitar, Tom Elliott, guitarist Jack Ronnie, bassist James Creed, and drummer Adam Williams paint their stories on a giant canvas.
The folky Wave After Wave flourishes with textures of chiming guitars before reaching a big rock finale in the tradition of War On Drugs. Idyllic current single West Coast, which gently ebbs and flows, subtly blends in elements of Americana, while the summery Morning Dew pairs Elliot’s sweet vocal with a shimmering solo from Ronnie. The jaunty Dreamer detours into a Dave Matthews Band-style instrumental jam that builds in pace and volume.
And sweeping set closer See You On The Other Side grows steadily from a slow, swaying groove into the kind of big stadium rock anthem Coldplay might have written before they went down the dayglo-pop route. It’s the kind of song that should see ENNOR take their bright “Californwall” sound to ever-bigger stages across the country.
Review of ENNOR, BABYTEETH, and Lavender Hills at The Finsbury on 17th October 2018 as part of Blogtober Festival 2018 by Nils van der Linden. Photography by Kalpesh Patel.