Blessa // Live Review

Hoxton Bar and Kitchen – January 16th


Each year, Hoxton Square bar and Kitchen is transformed into the home of new and emerging music for a two week showdown; the Artrocker New Blood event. With four bands gracing the tiny back- room stage every night, 2014’s lineup was no less than exceptional, with headliners including art-punkers Shopping and shoegazy indie duo Coves.

It was Thursday’s headliner though, Sheffield’s Blessa who stood out; so I made the venture from drizzly Bournemouth to a slightly less drizzly Shoreditch. Leeds based Glass Caves kicked off the night, playing twangy, catchy indie rock – one of those charismatic bands who prove to be instantly likeable.

Following up was London quartet Holy Milk, who seem to have garnered quite a support base around London looking at the crowd’s adoration, and rightly so; their live show is mesmerising with a sound lying somewhere between the delicate electronics of The XX and spooky undertones and cavernous atmospherics of Warpaint. Frontwoman Lucinda John-Duarte’s vocal is simultaneously soothing yet unnervingly nonchalant, with ambient percussion further bridging the gap between the two aforementioned bands.

When third act Febueder (pronounced like Bermuda, as in the Bermuda triangle) graced the stage, a completely different vibe was disseminated; everyone who’d heard of their material online knew they’d be in for a treat and eagerly shuffled forwards to get a glimpse of the Ascot trio who might just be the UK’s answer to Animal collective. Their laptop generated beats set the foundation for slinky basslines, rattling percussion and Kieran Godfrey’s unique vocal. ‘Galeo’, taken from their Soap Carv EP was a set highlight with staggered drum beats and distant hoot and howl whoops and yelps. Amongst the set was ‘Sloppiness Tank’, a seemingly gentler amble through the echoey weirdness before drums begin to skitter and bass creeps into a gloomy, attitude fuelled cry of ‘and then I go back’ which promts everyone in the first row to start bobbing. First release ‘Alligator’ closed the set; the clickety-clack beats marking the way for whirring computer-noise. One of those crazily modest bands who don’t quite realise how good they are yet (and also boasting one of the most animated drummers I’ve ever seen) it’s sure to be a great year for Febueder.

It’s headliners Blessa though who draw and hold the most captivated audience, as frontwoman Olivia Neller’s sweet, soaring vocal fills the room. Accompanied by Robert Piercy, Andy Piercy, Alex Burton and Jake Murray, the five piece exude a dreamy, shoegaze sound; with dense, dream- gloom percussion arrangements akin to those of The Cure. ‘Between Times’ gushes and spills sparkling guitar whilst ‘Bloom’ toys with reverb and beautiful vocals tinged with sadness.

‘Pale’ is the set highlight, with their slow, brooding pop taking on another level –guitars come in rippling, half-psychedelic waves, whilst that strong female vocal rushes to grasp your heart and mind; it’s romantic, it’s pretty, yet simultaneously melancholic. The kind of music, which when seen played live evokes a plethora of different emotions.

Despite only forming in 2012, their instruments intertwine so fluidly that they could have been playing shows together for years; creating such enrapturing soundscapes that they come across as a force rather than individual musicians – with a friendship, understanding and professionalism that’s a rarity to find these days.