Two words: ‘loud’ and ‘riffs’. In fact, add a profane precursor to each, because what was on display at this gig deserves an emphasis as powerful and obscene as the exhibition itself. Although modest requirements of any gig, those definitions were totally surmounted by two quite special bands. The first, Weirds, particularly brought the loud. The Wytches would later raise the riffs.
With little context, an initial expectation might be yeah, another emerging garage band is great, but to think that’s all Weirds are would be underestimating. Proudly, it seemed the leading edge of Cambridge took notice, with maybe 8 people at the start willing to be entertained during their wait for Wytches until not 5 minutes later a packed out venue had been magnetised, all compelled into considerable consternation by a fascinating force.
Laying a bed of electric drones they tucked their audience into a trance emitting choral-esque waves like an audible troposphere. Expertly timed breaks cut the tension allowing knees to buckle before raining down the riffs with beefy basslines that rattled and resounded a dancey relief, and with overcrowded pedal boards covering 80% of the stage floor you can imagine the filthy fuzzy psych sounds breezing from the rhythm. Long lingering vocal (and other) echoes were a personal highlight, especially when left on between songs for addresses to the audience. This was all accompanied by a beautiful symmetry of two guitarists wind milling their hair astride a violent glare from the central vocalist. As their set grew ever bolder (at a scary pace) the drummer sliced his way almost into ubiquity with the rest of the band practically parting to make way for the fallout of his thrashing.
Their continual upping of the ante was giddying. Only second on their bill was current single Phantom, a raucous pop thriller, which felt as inflated as it could get, but turns out that wasn’t even half their capacity. An ultimate burst came with their penultimate Blood Test, and carried through to their closer Weird Sun. Throughout these last two mind benders the pre-eminent vocalist unexpectedly hopped the barriers to skulk dizzily around onlookers. He do-si-doed all members of the crowd as fluid as a snake leaving a tail of screaming echoes behind him.
Portland Arms’ lighting rig deserves fair due for the theatrics but Weirds did put on one hell of a heavy spectacle. They have an arsenal of interesting elements to form smart structures, and although these were stretched and exaggerated live they also record well. Having just signed to Alcopop!, Weirds have promise to permeate many malleable brains out there.
The Wytches arrived with that same high peaking decibel level, offering no respiratory preparation by opening with Gravedweller. Continuing on to make full use of their back-catalogue it was awesome to see them increase the padding of each song almost beyond recognition. What might even be considered as subtler numbers such as C-Side and A Feeling We Get just absolutely shook the room with almighty cavernous resonance.
Of course though, that sort of thing was expected with most like Ghosthouse, Beehive Queen and Throned which did not disappoint in their ferocity. The mosh was brutal right from the onset, but it was also a relatively considerate one, atoning for elbows to faces and collectively rescuing casualties with urgency. It’s sort of reflective of the band, considering their doom laden sound against their poetic lyricism, it’s like sensile savagery.
Further highlights were Wide at Midnight where lead man Kristian Bell arched beneath his long fringe to reach his mic with perfect plangency. The Holy Tightrope too as it illustrated such pretty licks floating over super loose and low bass. Like really super loose and low. Outside their chiefly surf substance, it’s not hard to see comparisons to canonical favourites with an early Lemonheads/Smashing Pumpkinsy grunge rusticity and a T-Rexy glam. That’s enjoyable and certainly not to their detriment as it’s clearly only influenced, maybe unconsciously.
This was a gig as harmonious as the alliteration of the line-up. Where Weirds were warped, The Wytches were wild and twas all wonderfully wicked yet apparently weakened this writer to weedily wind words wrought. Psyched to catch them again. Hopefully they’ll come back to Cambridge as a super group because together they truly worked well. Wow.
Words from Ellie Clarke
Photos from Matt Thorpe