You could be forgiven for thinking that the only ‘art’ coming out of Essex at the minute is those morons with the fake tans and hair product addictions soiling the TV schedules. Thankfully, Essex has plenty more to offer. Named after an Arthur Russell song and playing their first London show, Wild Combination belt out their take on the synth-indie pop that The Killers and Phoenix made so accessible. If nerves or trepidation could be expected on this landmark gig, they certainly don’t show it. Lead singer and “pre-ear removal Van Gogh” lookalike (this is according to the person standing next to me), Christian Wright, is confident and assured throughout the short set, switching between hanging off the mike to hunching over his synths with dismissive ease. Their set is full of tracks that neatly nestle between the electro sway of Friendly Fires and the punchy indie-lite of Two Door Cinema Club. Wright’s vocals most resemble that of Two Door’s Alex Trimble, especially on latest single We Are The Creatures. The nonchalance of most London gig crowds is well known, but the packed upstairs living room of the Old Queen’s Head have their heads nodding and legs tapping in approval throughout. There’s nothing too challenging about what Wild Combination do, but the choruses are big, the hooks are in abundance and if tonight’s confident showing is anything to go by, they won’t have any problems moving up to bigger venues and harvesting a legion of new fans.
Having driven 12 hours from Ireland to play the gig tonight the 4 members of Funeral Suits look shattered, but their performance never suffers from any lack of energy. The Guardian’s new band blog describes them as “mournful and majestic”, which although certainly befitting, also seems to do them a slight disservice. The XX they are not. Constantly swapping instruments between songs, live they are intense, with the swathes of sound coming from them at times battering you in such a small venue. The drums are big, maybe too much so at points, and the guitars gritty and distorted, but underneath the bluster there’s hidden gems of melody and chorus’ that nestle in your brain. Current single Health has a Klaxons-esque punch to it, especially in the shared, slightly falsetto vocals, whilst Florida starts harmless enough before building into a brutal sonic onslaught. Colour Fade is the most interesting track tonight, with the drum machine provided beat and repeated, eerie guitar, it not only offers a chance for the audience to get their breath back, but also to get a clearer listen of the delicate and simple melodies at the heart of a lot of what Funeral Suits do. Too often tonight though this gets lost in the swirling distortion leaving you feeling slightly distracted. Although not perfect, the set is still exhilarating at times, and maybe with a slight ‘less is more’ approach live they could certainly be ‘ones to watch’ in 2012 and hopefully fill their potential.