Chinah - Bermondsey Social Club, London - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Chinah - Bermondsey Social Club, London

by Priscilla Eyles Rating: Release Date:
Chinah - Bermondsey Social Club, London
Chinah - Bermondsey Social Club, London

Bermondsey Social Club is a deceptively hard small venue to find, tucked away as it is in a dark alleyway of industrial arches you could easily walk by (which is what I did…), like getting invited to an underground warehouse party you need a secret password and good credentials for.

Perhaps fitting for a new Copenhagen-based band that is in the category of up-and-coming but still well under the radar enough to be knowingly cool to know and like. The sold-out crowd here certainly reflected that with some very hipster/hackney looking nonchalant young people in clear-framed glasses, blonde bowl cuts, trench coats and the kind of outfits I imagine stylists for ID and Dazed and Confused to wear (possibly half the audience were also musicians like me).

I must admit I also wished that the crowd had had a bit more energy or at least showed a little bit more excitement. Instead, nodding your head appreciatively and perhaps even swaying slightly was about as much ‘dancing’ as you were going to get from this crowd.

I had to content myself with being one of the most exuberant people there, continually bumping into the still people next to me. That is aside from one drunken woman at the front who could be heard at the end of almost every song loudly proclaiming her appreciation (‘ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIIIIIIC!’ she could be heard to say at one point in the most middle-class way possible).

But enough of the crowd and onto the performance itself, I admit here that I rushed in to see them just as they had started their set after missing the DJ supports including Em Ady from electronic duo Le Son, otherwise would comment on their sets (usually do like to support the supports as it were). I came in as they were playing low-key but stealthily hypnotic album opener ‘Anyone’ and it was clear that we were in for a good show.

Bathed in moody red and blue lighting the band proved their ability to perfectly recreate the song’s atmospheric and spacious production live, with just the power of band member’s singer Fine Glindvad’s subtly yearning, reverbed and sometimes warped/pitched vocals (occasionally joining in on keys); guitarist Simon Kjær also on keys and keyboardist Simon Andersson also on knobs twiddling and synth pad hitting duty.

The big and enveloping sound the three simpatico members created filled the room and gave the illusion of there being more musicians on stage than there were. For me seeing Chinah live reinforced for me what pleasing textures, grooves, and rhythms can be created by just the use of judiciously spaced beats, synth chords, unfussy guitar lines and manipulated vocals. The band clearly enjoying the sounds they were creating.

This was exemplified in set highlights such as the at turns eerie and alien, mesmerising late-night feel of ‘Strange Is Better’, the low-end, trip-hop menace of ‘Real Thing’ both from debut album ‘Anyone’ or the Daughter-like slowly-building wash of synths and simple guitar chords on ‘Never The Same’.

Whilst Fine dressed like an art school student in a casual dark sweatshirt embodies their low-key aesthetic, looking too cool for school, swaying her body and singing with a self-possessed look of quiet confidence and authority (belied by the sweetly humble smile and quietly spoken ‘thank yous’ at the end of some of the songs).

Other songs such as the brilliant ‘Away from Me’ from their 2016 EP ‘Once The Lights Are On’ (the most sing-along moment of the set) which made me take notice of the band in the first place, showcase the entrancing qualities of Fine’s vocals which can convey depth in the most coolly understated way and weaves into the music so organically.

Songs like ‘Give Me Life’ and ‘Adrenaline’ also showcased the band’s versatility and ability to recreate live the hard-solar-plexus-hitting nature of the songs on the album which have the most Timbaland/Portishead-like swagger and punch.

This set was proof of a band with a fully-realised sound and style honed over the 2 years of releasing EP’s. I really hope they are heard by more than just an elite art crowd, even if does make them less cool to hipsters.

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