Downstairs at the red gallery is a pretty industrial looking space, complete with thick square pillars holding the multi-storey building housing this place up. These pillars create a small square area which the audience fills, facing the bare stage in front of them. There isn’t much scope for elaborate lighting, in fact all there really is is a collection of spot-lights on stage evidently blinding the acts performing. Despite the austere setting however, all three acts fill the room with their varying signature sounds, and the atypical gig location actually provides the night with a nice charm.
The first act to take to the stage are much hyped American bedroom indie group Day Wave, who announce that this is their first time in London. They perform a tight set, with the drifty/slackery sound that is created so well on their recordings coming across well in a live setting. There isn’t a lot of audience interaction, and at times the band look a little unsure of themselves, but both of these very very minor issues are far outshone by the quality of the playing, and the quality of the songs themselves.
Highlights include the seriously catchy ‘Come Home Now’, breakthrough single ‘Drag’ and self-deprecating ‘Zombie’. They announce that they’ve got two tracks left, but this turns out to not be the case as the promoter comes to tell them they’re out of time. I can only imagine this is why the imperious ‘We Try But We Don’t Fit In’ isn’t performed- ah well, this only goes to further convince me I need to see Day Wave again- not that I need any more convincing!
Second band on are Inheaven. The volume and intensity levels gain a marked increase, lead singer James Taylor's snarling vocal delivery style combined with the pounding drums, fuzzed out bass and screeching guitars are a true assault on the senses. The tunes are there too though, most notably in stand-out singles ‘Bitter Town’ and ‘Regeneration’ which make up the closing two songs of the set.
What impressed me most about Inheaven was the vocal interplay between Taylor and bassist Chloe Little. Reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine or The History of Apple Pie this was an example of a true shoegaze trope utilised to perfection, and coming across much more clearly than on record. Of all the bands, the industrial setting seemed to suit these guys the most.
Finally, and to much excitement from a crowd made up largely of their dedicated and enthusiastic fan base, headliners The Magic Gang strut out to deliver a punchy 40 minute set of their sunny indie bangers. The Magic Gang are probably the tightest band of their type I’ve seen play, in terms of a complete package of stage presence, musical performance, set pacing and vocal harmonies. The two lead singers play off of each other perfectly, and the rhythm section provide their vocal talents too when required.
It is testament to the strength and depth of their growing back catalogue that they can despatch the song that got them noticed, and fan favourite ‘She Won’t Ghost’ second up. A few new songs (“we recorded in Kingston Jamaica…. I’m not bragging” … “you’re totally bragging…”) are road-tested and illicit a great response from the crowd. In between though you are never very far away from one of their seemingly endless supply of instant-classics – the ridiculously catchy “Jasmine” and melancholic “Alright” punctuate the middle section, before the rolling behemoth “No Fun” closes the main set.
The guys hardly leave the stage however before they’re back for a rousing and audience involving encore rendition of “Shallow”, the massive repeated refrain/hook ( “I’m so shallooooooow”) is initially sung communally over just the drums before the rest of the band crash in to see the night through to its conclusion.
It was a real pleasure experience three bands with undoubtedly bright futures.