Before they had even released their debut album at the beginning of this year, Hinds put out an LP entitled Very Best of Hinds so Far, in 2015. I believe there is a phrase for this kind of behaviour; putting the cart before the horse, or this instance, female deer. (See translation of Hinds to contextualise the reference.) Three of the songs on the preceding release would find a new home – with some slight production refurbishments – on Leave Me Alone, which was generally well received. The quartet (four girls from Madrid ranging from nineteen to twenty-three years of age) emanated an initial glint of promise with their lo-fi garage-pop sound. How would their varying tempos in songs translate in a live setting? Surely with their early displays of confidence and self-assurance they would translate to their musicianship?
Academy 2 is a very intimate venue with a capacity of two hundred and twenty-three standing gig attending occupants. The floor level stage facilitates a rare closeness to the performers, breaking down any boundaries and allowing the audience to enjoy the music at an equal level to the band. This levelled perspective makes for a more casual affair, but not necessarily a more enjoyable one.
A noticeably youthful crowd of first year college students and the occasional twenty-something, adorned with their slouchiest vintage jumpers and cropped high-waisted, skintight jeans, slowly gather to take their positions at the front of the stage when the support act casually amble through the audience and weave behind the barrier to pick up their instruments. The Fontaines, a five-piece from Dublin launch straight into an obnoxious set of brit-punk inspired “dancey songs” that are “crippling with political intent” about “xenophobia rigging elections.” Their performance would prove more than frustrating, as they lack a humbleness and authenticity. It seems as though they have spent a lot of time perfecting their image and “nonchalance” than actually working on how they want to sound, factors that easily come to light when you throw a band on stage.
There is a momentary musical palate cleanser when Hot Chocolate’s infectious, ‘You Sexy Thing (I Believe in Miracles)’ lure a giddy Hinds from backstage to an equally excitable crowd, albeit one whose enthusiasm will soon wane. The girls engage regularly with the crowd, asking them if they are drinking, and then playing a song, then insisting we “find someone special” because, apparently, that is partly why people go to gigs in Madrid. Now, call me old-fashioned but I go to gigs, generally, to hear an album I’ve developed a fondness for over time, not to find a husband. I guess priorities have changed.
The most worthwhile moments of their set is, as expected, when they play their singles, but even then they manage to fall short of fulfilling the expectation of the crowd. When their biggest single to date, ‘Easy’ is introduced, the audience cheer and yelp, indicating that this is the moment everyone has been waiting for. That, like many of Hinds’ songs, shapeshifts from languid 1960s guitar lines to mildly erratic drum-led moments of frenzy. This doesn’t translate smoothly when the band are forced to keep up with the pace that they have created in the comfort of a studio with a producer. However, ‘Garden’, and ‘Warts’ slightly make up for this uncomfortable unease in the chaotic live translations of the songs. Mostly, the musical style and the band become increasingly intolerable until they eventually depart.