Review // Kirk Spencer / Gaps / Crvvcks / Iyes

how june isOld Blue Last, Shoreditch

11/06/13

As IYES take to the stage to kick off proceedings, they’re faced with the unenviable task of winning over a crowd of post-work drinkers still catching up on the latest office gossip. Some technical hitches during the first couple songs don’t particularly help their cause, mind. Undeterred, they power through and deliver a set full of heavy hitting, R&B tinged pop delights that suffice in diverting the attentions of the crowd in their favour. ‘Glow’ is the standout track, its powerful rhythms and aggressive synths meshing beautifully with the delicate and melodic female-male vocal interchanging. Their between song clumsiness can be unbearably awkward at times, but some honing in on the live setup will undoubtedly work wonders, and hopefully help fully-realise the massive potential they possess.

Nottingham duo Crvvcks are an altogether different prospect. Their music is decent enough; pulsing beats and down-pitched vocals over hazy sonic soundscapes = good. But doing nothing more than standing on stage with a laptop and pressing play = not good. It comes across more like a DJ set, and it doesn’t work particularly well at 8.45 on a Tuesday evening. It’s unfortunate, because the songs are clearly strong. But the crowd, obviously confused and thinking it’s nothing more than a between-band DJ set, have vacated to the bar.

As soon as Brighton’s Gaps step on stage, the venue is once again overflowing. And it’s obvious why, because Gaps are absolutely brilliant. There may only be two of them, but they have no trouble filling the room with their hypnotic, looping rhythms and graceful melodies, mixing the delicate, atmospheric guitar lines of Mogwai with Flying Lotus-aping beats and Elizabeth Fraser-esque vocals. Making full use of loop pedals and sample pads to piece their songs together in a fascinating fashion, it’s a wholly encompassing live experience that’s impossible not to enjoy.

Kirk Spencer makes beat-driven, melodically-correct heavy pop. And it’s damn good live, too. Accompanied by some stunning visuals, Spencer hammers away at sample pads and drum machines with the relentless force of a man whose life depended on it. He’s an energetic and passionate one-man show, and his well-structured set grows and builds in a way that never gets dull. It knows when to go all out and when to reign it in. The gritty, slow-building distorted goodness of ‘Kukco’ proves to be the highlight of the night, combining in spectacular fashion with those mesmerising visuals.

Nathan Standlee