The Wytches - The Hope, Brighton - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The Wytches - The Hope, Brighton

by Alexis Somerville Rating:8 Release Date:2012-11-26

It's been a sunny Saturday in Brighton, with various daytime festivals and carnivals taking place throughout the city. For gig goers looking to continue into the night, this free show at The Hope seems like the obvious choice, with its much-lauded line-up and warnings to get down early or risk being turned away.

The Wytches formed in 2011 after making the move down to Brighton from Peterborough. They're a four-piece but just three of them are here tonight as second guitarist Mark remains in Peterborough and only plays at hometown gigs. This show is the single launch for 'Beehive Queen', released on Hate Hate Hate.

The band have received some very positive publicity recently for their brand of melancholy psychedelia and mesmerising live performances. I missed them at the Great Escape festival last month - where it's frankly impossible to catch every band on your to-see list - so was glad to get this second chance.

The evening begins with a set from local band Kill Moon. As this is the first support band of the evening and I've heard very little about them, I have zero expectations. So it's a nice surprise when they turn out to be very, very good. The band is tight and frontwoman Izzy Bee Phillips is effortlessly engaging. The trio veer from the quiet-loud-quiet aesthetic of Pixies via no wave, grunge and riot grrrl and get the expanding crowd in the right frame of mind for what's to come.

Next up are Tiger Cub, another Brighton three-piece who play grungey guitar-pop. In my mind, they have a lot to prove (perhaps unfairly) because Kill Moon have set the bar so high, but they win me over by the end of their set. The choice of support bands for this event is excellent and streamlines neatly into the headliners' musical style.

Then, after much faffing and standing around as the venue packs out to capacity, The Wytches appear on stage to the sound of disorientating feedback. Frontman Kristian Bell's voice sounds disembodied and haunting, partly because he looks far too young to emit such creepy and wizened noises. This is psychedelia in its darkest hour.

The Wytches' music is very evocative, particularly when performed live. At one moment we're transported to what feels like an ominous wild west town approaching high noon. At another I'm pretty sure we're on a boat, surrounded by the ghosts of surfers, as The Wytches lead us into a cave with skulls hanging from the ceiling. There's no way out, but it's okay because the acoustics work perfectly with their doom-laden songs.

But it isn't all surf-doom'n'gloom. The Wytches have a lot of post-punk energy and by the end of the set they've whipped the crowd into a ludicrous frenzy which results in amps and speakers being knocked off their crates, and several bodies excitedly hitting the ground. At the end of the final song, they throw down their guitars and drums, getting more destructive with each act. The crowd clearly loves it, and a swarm of joyous, sweaty bodies flood out of the venue reeling from what they have witnessed.

As well as 50s surf and 60s psych bands, The Wytches have been compared to Bleach-era Nirvana. The reasons for this are evident from their live performance - they have the same raw charisma which shot Nirvana to fame. Being at this gig felt like one of those moments you're going to talk about in years to come. Whether it happens or not, this is a band that deserves to get big. I'd advise trying to catch them now, while they're still playing small venues.

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