Live Review: The Wytches at DC9, Washington DC – 20th November 2014

By on Monday, 24th November 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

“Hypnotic. Arabian funeral. Depression in the desert. Sepia rainbows.

“This is the psychedelic nightmare spun by The Wytches, who are spreading their subversive message across the UK in the dark guide of SOS surf riffs, desert riffs, melancholic shuffles and a kaleidoscopic stage performance that will put you under.”

This was the description on the DC9 Web site of Thursday evening’s headliner the Wytches. Quite accurate, I reckon: there is a dark and dangerous undercurrent of subversion to the music of the Brighton-based trio, which initially sounded strange to me, given that they live by the beautiful southern coastline of England. However, I learned on the night that two of their band members are originally from Peterborough; I’ll have to ask our John what the deal is with that place and if it informs the pervading doom and gloom of their sound. But that is neither here nor there: what is far more important to note is that despite my initial impression of the tracks of theirs I heard online and thinking, “is that all?”, the live performance of the Wytches is an interesting, beguiling mixture of swirly guitar and powerful bass and drum beats, delivered with animalistic, raw vocals, and money spent on a ticket to see this band will be worth every last penny.

Further, anyone who has listened to their music before knows of the muscle and raucousness of the group’s sound, but what you will find when experiencing them live is the nuances of brilliant songwriting that might not be immediately apparent to the untrained ear. That is, there is method to this madness. They can write and play a good song, as well as give good show. Isn’t it a truly sad development of popular music that these three things are all too often mutually exclusive these days?

I found myself easily and entirely willingly drawn into the Eastern-tinged melodies of the band, most always delivered alongside a punishing rhythm section. There were moments where I could not help but smile to myself, thinking about my younger years when I thought Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ was a pretty cool tune. I’m happy to say that the kind of vibe managed by Led Zeppelin on ‘Physical Graffiti’ has not only been inspirational to a younger generation of musicians, the vibe is been continued. And stretched, modified and improved on.

Past singles ‘Wire Frame Mattress’ and ‘Burn Out the Bruise’ are noteworthy for the anguished screams of guitarist/frontman Kristian Bell and its entirely headbanging-inducing thunder well appreciated by the crowd assembled in Washington. The seductive rhythm of ‘Robe for Juda’, probably better known to most readers of TGTF for its extremely low-budget video, doesn’t fail to bring rapture to tonight’s audience, is a standout at this show too, along with debut single ‘Digsaw’. All the while, you can only be mesmerised by what is enfolding in front of your very eyes: three young men, clearly skilled with their weapon of choice, giving their all and ostensibly, if you pay close attention to the lyrics, giving life what for when it comes to the suffering of relationship-based angst.

‘Weights and Ties’ provides a superb counterpoint, showing the band’s more surf pop, softer side. See, they can play their instruments without pummeling them to death. ‘Wide at Midnight’, characterised by a slower tempo than most of the Wytches’ debut album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’, is another indicator that there is far more here than just loud guitars, loud drumming and wailing. Both tell me that there is still plenty of mileage in the ethos this trio are peddling. More, please.

You might be in luck to catch the band live next week after they return from the States; all the details of their last dates in 2014 are this way.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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