Last week saw [PIAS] Nites move their event to the recently opened OMEARA in Borough, to showcase some of the newest signing to the Different Recordings arm of the PIAS family.
OMEARA, the brainchild of Mumford and Sons’ and Communion mastermind, Ben Lovett, provided a fantastic setting for the eclectic mix of acts on show. The venue itself is almost perfectly designed for the small gig market with its perfectly shaped room, well placed bars and sloped floors, and even gains artistic credit with its interesting post-apocalyptic meets Napoleanic palace feel, with Chandeliers and ornate wall cornicing set in a small shelter-esque space.
The night itself was opened by Groves, who sadly sufferred from a delay in getting people into the venue but still enjoyed a good crowd. Musically, the Manchester raised, London based band looked every part the understated indie foursome, but straddled keyboard and drumpads and moved seamlessly from Korg synths to keys to guitar and back, sharing instrumentation and vocal duties throughout their set. Their music was driven by propulsive basslines and metallic grooves, combining math rock with electronica and synth pop melodies. The songs played suggested a band still finding their feet, playing new tracks with working titles that included ‘Orange Wednesdays’, but the latest signing to Different sounded most comfortable on recent single, ‘Do You Feel’.
By the time Australia’s KLLO hit the stage we were quickly approaching capacity in the venue, and those in attendance were treated to a soul-garage masterclass. At times it felt like we were in the studio, watching the duo of Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam construct tracks from the bare bones, using vocal loops and tracks to build rich, if glitchy, musical compositions. Kaul’s airy and at times fragile vocals shimmered above the work of Lam, as he combined electro, soul and hip hop via some clever electronic manipulation. Her rendition of ‘Under Lie’ was beautiful in its angst as she implored “All the lying subsists as the light in here manipulated, rolling in and out of twisted tight, choose to retaliated heavy-hearted greed.” Elsewhere, there were splices of Latin rhythms and electronic organs as the band showed their take on modern R&B, a sound that is growing and growing in prominence both in their home country and around the world, and best shown on the night through their breakout track ‘Bolide’.
The sound was crisp throughout, improving with every act as the set up was tailored more and more. By the time Vessels hit the stage the sound filled the room, the double percussion crisp and prominent. The light show and staging had also built throughout the night, ready for the main act, who enjoyed a great reception from the crowd.
The five piece from Leeds emerged to a pulsating introduction, tension suitably built before their trademark mix of swirling synths, crisp percussion and dense musical collages was unleashed. Vessels have gradually transitioned away from their earlier post rock sound to a more undulating electronic sound, but both influences were evident in the live setting. They pulled together elements of prog, classical, post punk, ambience and house in their work and mastered the art of creating atmospheres through their music. Organ sounds were placed alongside futuristic effects that were as much ELP as Deadmau5 and everything was built methodically and patiently before descending into big musical crescendos and breakdowns, fusing and warping their influences effortlessly. The time spent touring throughout the summer has clearly had a positive effect as their rapport as a band was flawless throughout.
As the criticism that electronic music is one guy pressing play on his laptop plagues “superstar” DJs, and indirectly all other purveyors of the electronic genres, it was refreshing to enjoy a night of bands who proved that electronic music can be just as, if not more, creative and challenging as guitar music in a live setting.
Words: William Sutton