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12th December 2014

Live: The Wytches

The psych-rockers’ ‘pop-up gig’ suffers from over-familiarity
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1st December

The Ruby Lounge

6/10

Having sold out The Deaf Institute already this month, The Wytches’ ‘pop-up’ gig at Ruby Lounge was a gift for those dissatisfied, having missed out the week before. Hedging their bets that this evening’s crowd were either those unfortunate enough to have missed their official show, or those come back for round two, The Wytches made no effort to flirt with a room of strangers, but instead flung their familiar material at a bunch of old friends. Starting, as you would assume to go on, The Wytches are not self-conscious, albeit only of their faces, which are concealed behind a mass of hair for the entire set. Frontman Kristian Bell’s screeches increase with hysteria, as the coherent blend of psych-rock and garage-punk rile the previously tame moshers into a frenzy. Undeniably, the mass of sweat is palpable.

An intermission of extended guitar reverb between songs aids momentary forgetfulness, so as not to recognise that every song sounds the same. Either that, or to provide a short respite from the relentless headbanging. The three ecstatic girls who found their way onto the stage, would have been gone unnoticed, thrashing their long black hair in sync with the band, if only their blonde friend, clambering up after them, hadn’t ruined the continuity of the dark, faceless rocker.

It would be easy to accept Wytches for Bell’s hoarse, gutteral exertions and assume The Wytches are a contrived punk band with a ‘fuck this’ attitude. Yet, hard as it may be, when you strip away the heavy screams, a delicate melody is revealed. This is most evident on ‘Wide at Midnight’, with emphasis instead placed on the guitar, spidering around a melancholy web of haze. Just as The Horrors played with the same balance in 2007 on Strange House, The Wytches are successful as they hint at an upbeat surf-rock beneath their darkness, placing them on the digestible end of the grungy, garage rock spectrum.


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