Hunck, Life and Phobophobes @ The Old Fire Station.
It’s a very rainy windy night in Bournemouth for the Launch gig of Hunck’s short tour to promote their new EP Never had a Dream at the Old Fire Station. This gig is also part of Independent Venue Week, a 7 day celebration of small music venues around the UK and a nod to the people that own, run and work in them, week in, week out, so it’s a bit of a shame that there wasn’t a bigger crowd to help support 3 excellent bands, and a great little venue. For those that did turn up though, it was worth the effort.
The evening kicks off with Phobophobes, a 5 piece from south London who definitely sit at the downbeat end of the psychedelic rock spectrum. Ironic therefore that they open with a track entitled The Fun with a downbeat chord structure and moody guitar and Hammond organ background. Front man Jamie Taylor definitely has a presence though, with a look of Robert Smith from the Cure and a vocal a little like Mark E Smith of the Fall, and he acts a great focus for the other band members around him.
However what singles Phobophobes out for me is the ever present whirr of the organ and keyboards played by Chris Oliveres-Chandler. Apart from being a striking figure on stage, his playing lends a real depth to their sound, particularly on tracks like Human Baby, and No Flavour which verges on punk with a Hammond organ backline. They’re an interesting merging of styles without a doubt!
Next are Life, four lads from ‘ull (or Hull as us soft southerners would say it) who crackle and fizz through a storming 30 minute set of energy charged new punk. They’ve been getting a lot of interest of late, including regular plays by Steve Lamacq on Radio 6 and rightly so. There’s no airs and graces about their performance, this is proper grungy sweaty punk, and it’s a shame that Mez couldn’t persuade the slightly nervy crowd to get closer to the stage; in a small club the atmosphere would have been dynamite.
Their opener Crawling sets the scene nicely for the really charged up BA BA BA with its shouty chorus and hard back line. Membership Man is a staunch anti-Tory anthem which has Mez ditching the mic stand and getting properly active across the stage onto the barrier somewhat akin to Iggy Pop. Despite the aggressive style to their music, they’re a great bunch of lads and there’s time between songs for a bit of crowd banter about the best places to go in Bournemouth on a chilly Thursday night. Highlight track though was definitely their current single Popular Music. “ Totally off my face, I listen to popular music,” sneers Mez as the song starts with QOSA-esque rif before launching into a fast paced 3 minute punk thrash. Great stuff.
A short pause and it’s a real change of pace and feel for Hunck who bring a much lighter offering of bright surf influenced pop, and who also manage to get the crowd closer and more active.
Although formed in N.London, the founder members originally hail from Bournemouth, and they’re an interesting blend of styles within the band. For example, lead singer Frederik definitely has a hint of a young Freddie Mercury about him, whilst lead guitarist Thomas is more new wave hippy. This diversity also transcends into their music, which is much considerably more laid back than either of the two previous bands and is definitely reminiscent of early Flaming Lips; perfect for slow, warm summer afternoons spent by the side of a river.
Opener I’ll Wait is also the first track on their new EP and has Frederik taking lead vocals behind the keyboard. It’s a catchy jangly number, which has a definite 60’s psychedelic feel to it and it’s a good prelude for next track Never Had a Dream, also on the EP and which continues the light, upbeat feel to their sound. Vocals aren’t solely performed by Frederik, and for Girl, and the excellent ode to lost love So Far So Deep, Thomas takes the lead. However the standout track for me was definitely Up in the Sky, a song that continues with the tripped out groove but with a hint towards Arcade Fire. It also has a slightly heavier guitar bias about it, and for me the style seems to suit the band, although listening stats on SoundCloud for the latest EP would contradict that when judged against the other tracks. Oh well!
Nonetheless I really enjoyed their little slice of summer and on a cold winters evening on the south coast, a promise of a warm weather and lazy afternoons is perhaps the best antidote. All in all a great demonstration of why we all need to carry on supporting small venues. Even Coldplay had to start somewhere.
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Hunck, Life and Phobophobes @ The Old Fire Station Bournemouth 28th January 2016
Live Review and Photography by Andy Sampson. You can see more of Andy’s concert photography here: www.soundritualphotos.co.uk