Anthemic and driven show from whenyoung that rides along on a wave of joy and sheer danceability.
Walking into the main room at Electrowerkz, it's a triumphant, sweaty mess. The Ninth Wave
, the second of whenyoung's
two support acts (following on from Sinead O’Brien
) perform, melting on the stage. Twisting and jerking about, the two at the front of the stage – the only ones not trapped by a drum kit or keyboard – swap vocal roles as well as bass and lead guitar duties. The music feels heightened, at once rushed and relaxed, tense and unwound, with the two vocalists (Millie Kidd and frontman Haydn Park-Patterson) lending each of their respective passages character and contradiction. The songs are both goth and poppy, like art-rock meets pop-punk meets a The Cure/Boy George mash-up, and something about their confidence on stage, the way they swap between strolling and heaving their way around the stage, makes it all work.
The band barrels their way towards the end of their final song and Park-Patterson, dressed strikingly like Boy George but performing with far more attitude and snarling, raises his arms aloft at his sides. Drummer Lewis Tollan clambers over and out from behind the drum-set and Kidd shrugs her guitar off. The band funnels their way out as the crowd parts obediently before following them out to grab a drink while whenyoung sets up.
The room is a cube, with one-way mirrors on parallel sides running perpendicular to the stage, found at the end of the room, directly opposite the door as you attempt to squeeze your way into the heavingly hot place. From the other side of the one-way mirror you can gaze while you get a drink from the mock courtyard, immediately next door to the room, where a muted version of the show can be listened to and half watched through the dim lighting and haze. As the room fills up it’s best to grab three cans before making your way back in and snaking your way as far forward as possible.
As a voiceover plays over the sound system, the three that make up whenyoung
(Aoife Power on vocals and bass, Niall Burns on guitar, and Andrew Flood behind the drums) attempt to weave their way through the packed crowd. Each attempt at advancing is at first met with resistance before each audience member in turn recognizes the band and lets them through. The voiceover establishes the tone for the gig – theatrical and assuredly sincere – and comes back at times to preface songs. It’s a haunting, glitchy sort of voice, that errs on the robotic side of the uncanny valley, not quite completely organic, but also not entirely processed.
Over the next 45 minutes what the crowd gets is a blistering display of anthemic, driven, poppy punk tracks that ride along on a wave of joy and sheer danceability. The machine-gun-drumming from Flood, jaw-dropping and the stuff of instant head-banging, is the perfect background for the spiky, scratch guitar from Burns and the casually earnest vocals from Power’s that inspires screaming singalongs. While Power plants herself behind the mic for most of the set, Burns writhes about with a Flea-like joy and energy, backing up and harmonizing with Power at times before screaming and spitting lyrics off the edge of the stage as he rips away at his guitar strings. When it’s all over, after ten songs, the band splits, out the same way they came in, and it is clear that they’re a live and recorded band to keep an incredibly close eye on in the future. An easy feat for the near future, fortuitously, as they head out on tour in March and April with Sundara Karma.
Photo credit: supplied by management
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