A packed Hope witnessed a very promising debut performance from Brighton four–piece rock n’ rollers The Baron. The female fronted band certainly had strong support if the response from a friend-loaded crowd was anything to go by but to ascribe that reaction to nepotism would be churlish. Their extremely well-rehearsed-but-basic Fall/Monks-esque garage rock wasn’t groundbreaking but it was well executed. One look at the band tells us who the star is: the three chaps on bass, guitar and drums were virtually anonymous in their efficiency, which left the limelight to their likable front woman, Helen. It’s attention she was comfortable with; in fact her red hair, electric blue eye make-up and tight fitting burger-printed dress practically demanded it. Her voice gets stronger as the show goes on and by the end she was belting out the lyrics to ‘Dance Through It,’ one of the stand out numbers. Her performance was subtly reminiscent of the young Karen O of early Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The Dissonants seemed a little out of place in between the other acts, a fact that certainly didn’t seem to put off the band or crowd. They are a three-piece instrumental rock band akin to Shellac playing a Guided By Voices tribute set, their pounding drums and rumbling low end provide a foundation for some excellent fretwork. A seriously loud outfit, the bass became a feeling as well as a sound which seemed to suit their stop/start attack. The staccato nature of the show mercifully enabled the crowd some breathing space to recover their composure between assaults but The Dissonants keep momentum up through a variety of time changes and demonstrated that they are a super-tight outfit of accomplished musicians. However, especially when compared to the two acts either side of them, their lack of a frontman did detract from their stage presence.
Five-piece The Querelles – similar to the openers – are a band beholden to their influences. One look at the stage demeanour of their tattooed, hot-panted, leopard-print singer’s gives a big tip; Iggy Pop in The Stooges. It’s good time, party music that despite its lack of originality won’t get old. Vocalist De Vine is a natural performer; snake hipped and in possession of a voice to line suburban driveways or clear icy roads, demonstrated best on stand out numbers ‘Looking For Love’ and ‘Every Day Is One Day Less’. An on stage shout out for mum and dad feels a little incongruous and reminds me this is Brighton ‘14 and not Ann Arbor ’69, yet they’re reliable excitement for fans of this proto-punk sound.