Violens @ Heaven, London, 08 May 2009

May 17, 2009 by  

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The setting is gay super club Heaven, a curious venue for an indie rockout? Well, no. Since being taken over by the Mama Group, the venue has been putting that immense sound system and stage to good use, having stuck some very decent gigs in the calendar, with Little Boots, Passion Pit, Dreadzone all coming up – bloody hurrah we say. But as a word of caution, if you drop your sandwich here, the 3 second rule does not apply.

Violens have cast their first stone into the musical pond where it’s made some pleasant enough ripples; their eponymous debut EP has some fine gems of cerebral indie pop. The songs have a spacious sound, sometimes recalling early nineties indie bands like Ride, sometimes 60’s surf rock, inflected with a little old fashioned 80’s synth and swoon. Vocalist Iddo Arrad has a voice that, by turns, hints at Tony Hadley, Brian Wilson and even Ian Broudie, but all intrinsically good. They’ve received some strong critical acclaim, and based on their EP, rightly so, but whether they can cut le moutarde live, is yet to be seen.

The lads arrive on stage looking slightly awkward in regretful synchronized white t-shirts. Dress sense aside, they have a tentative stage presence. Even once in full flow they’re pretty static. The rules of successful shoegazing state it must be done moodily with allure and ruefully. They fail at this, and the punter’s eyes have naught to chew on. Sound wise, their delicately constructed songs are slightly lost. Their music clearly needs the tender hands of a caring sound engineer. It doesn’t really work tonight; the alchemy of spaciousness in their sound is lost. The crowd look underwhelmed, but then, so do the band.

There are some highlights in their set, Lighting, Lightning is executed well – leading foot to tapping and head nodding all around. Breezy 60’s jaunt, Violent Sensation Descends is more win than lose and they succeed in pulling off the Beach Boys-esque harmonies well. Where the evening right picks up is with closing number Full Collision which is a storming improvement of affairs, with satisfying walls of ballsy noise. Just when they’re about to win the hearts of the crowd, it’s all over.

I’d like to see Violens again sometime in the not too distant future. I’m sure they’re onto something, and once they’ve found their pluck, it’ll be a sight to behold. Yet the fact remains, if you and your buddies have schlepped all the way from New York to London town to play the people your songs, you best bring your game and look like you mean it. There’s some stiff competition out there boys, after all.

By Hannah Lanfear

Photo by Tom Hines


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