Brad Pitt Light Orchestra @ The Button Factory
Friday’s first band to grace The Button Factory’s stage, the kookily named Brad Pitt Light Orchestra employed their witty intelligent lyricism and big band with an indie slant style to the full. It’s quite possible to imagine them sound-tracking a dark comedy starring George Clooney. Material from their album Lowering the Tone perked up the spirits of the large BPLO following gathered in the venue. An abundance of tongue in cheek acerbic humour, a penchant for the theatrical strung together with pulsating percussion, sprightly guitar sounds and an overall feeling that one should be wearing a gown or a tux made for an enchanting experience.
Funeral Suits @ The Button Factory
Making good use of the venue’s smoke machine and lights, Funeral Suits got straight into their brand of heavily percussioned quirky dissonance; ‘Stars are Spaceships’ was littered with well placed yelps and squeals. The synth feast ‘Screentest’ was dance worthy with faultless unyielding drumming. Slower, softer songs, ‘ We Only Attack Ourselves’, seemed more cohesive coming together through less calculated hooks and harmonies, detailing their prowess in swapping vocals and instruments; while also highlighting that the band are no one trick ponies. The formerly slow building ‘Florida’ was given a grungier make-over, rendering its sound bigger and more polished, though perhaps stealing a bit of its initial cheeky charm. That said, mischief dripped all over the skittering Ritalin battle of sing-song chiding on ‘Adventures/Misadventures’, punctuated with some impressive key-of-kitty miaowing amidst the green and red flashing lights.
Valerie Francis @ The Button Factory
It’s the diversity of the acts in each venue that entices crowds to HWCH each year. In a complete, and welcome, shift of mood to her predecessors on stage, Valerie Francis was the embodiment of hauntingly beautiful acoustic folk. Tonight she played without a backing band, strumming tentatively as she gently launched into lilting vocals. The acoustic guitar accompanying her sparkling clear voice lent a plaintive quality to a set that was nothing short of ambient and intimate. The melodies were simple, clean and uncomplicated on songs like ‘Slow Dynamo’ and ‘Punches’, but never over-sentimental .
Sweet Jane @ The Button Factory
Sweet Jane presented a wall of pure retro rock ‘n’ roll sound. One word describes the band perfectly and that word is ‘swagger’; they have it in bucket loads. From the insouciant fur coated blustering of frontwoman Lydia Des Dolles as she arrived on stage swigging nonchalantly from a bottle of red and wielding a tambourine, to the cool slickly delivered bluesy vocals and compelling guitar riffs from Danda. The girl/boy interplays on vocals bounced with enthusiasm alongside superb bass lines, guitar riffs and drums. Songs like ‘Bleed’ and ‘Blackeyes’, had a Mazzy Star led by Alyson Mosshart feel to them, but, comparisons aside the sound created by Sweet Jane is entirely their own, both retro and contemporary in one almighty rock ambush.
Windings @ Sweeneys
Windings brought soft indie folk rock to the stage in Sweeneys, to an anticipating crowd who seemed to believe the hype surrounding second album It’s Never Night. Initially a solo project, headed by former Giveamanakick frontman Steve Ryan, Windings have since grown into a quintet. ‘Old Like J’ was the standout song from a set that was mellow to the core but, bizarrely, throughout some songs there is a slight hint of early stuff from Boston based ska band, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The song-writing involved is genuinely beautiful, though at times the melodies meander through scarcely discernable key changes and can sound a bit dirge like. However when Windings musical dexterity comes full throttle it really works, with crackly hushed vocals gliding over gutsy plucked guitars. Not to everyone’s taste, but not to be dismissed readily either.
Photos by Damien McGlynn, Sara Devine and James Goulden.