Live review: The Howl & The Hum
By Olivia White
Sam Griffiths sauntered on the stage just as the lights cut to black and re-lit to portray the intriguing, cinematic quartet The Howl & The Hum. The sold-out Fulford Arms awaited their first cue to be plunged into The Hum’s world of curious narratives, rip-roaring riffs, and a performance that would linger in the consciousness for months to come.
The Howl & The Hum exhibited their electrifying anthology, consisting of both previously released material, such as the screeching ‘Manea’, newest single ‘Portrait I’, an EP heavily supported by Tom Robinson on his BBC6 show, and anxiously awaited new tracks.
The new songs that The Howl & The Hum have to offer really demonstrate their versatility and Sam’s compelling lyricism. From the heart-breaking, delicate, nostalgic ‘Sweet Fading Silver’ to the raw, angsty, frenzied performance of ‘Murder’, this band compile perfectly executed literary works together with the embellishment of howling guitar licks and heart-resonating drum beats.
The Howl & The Hum’s vivid storytelling certainly isn’t going unnoticed, given their rightly deserved spots on a vast range of upcoming festivals over the summer months, including Latitude, Barn on the Farm, Standon Calling, Citadel, Liverpool Sound City, and Live at Leeds, the latter just 35 days away (but who’s counting…right?).
Given the quartet’s relatively short time-span as The Howl and The Hum, only now reaching eighteen months, it is fair to say the band have succeeded in acquiring a ‘cult’ fan base and impressive support.
Rather than describe The Howl & The Hum’s work as a collection of songs, we should continue to refer to their discography as an anthology or collection of literary pieces. Because of vocalist Sam Griffiths’ ability to concoct entirely different discourses for different characters across songs, the term ‘songs’ seems not an entirely accurate description of their work. This is what makes their leading distinct, quirky, and incredibly fascinating soundscape.
Frontman Sam is undeniably a character himself. Arm, finger, and ankle spasms are coupled with melting facial expressions from the very moment the band play their first chord. Their opening alt-pop piece ‘Hall of Fame’ eased the audience into their set, but by the three-quarter mark the audience was plunged through heavy dystopian fictions of wanting to be a shark, the consequences of shooting at a storm, and (a personal favourite) their contrasting performances of ‘Murder’ and ‘Sweet Fading Silver’. The live performance of both anthems presented the crowd with the sheer enthusiasm, complexity, and passion these four musicians possess. Sam’s disposition almost acts as a caricature captivating the viewer as they’re left powerless to look away.
As they say, there’s a fine line between genius and insanity.