Getintothis’ Chris Hughes heads to Studio 2 for a taste of Black Honey, the garage rockers from Brighton with a growing reputation and a lucky pink flamingo.
It seems like there’s a new garage-rock band finding their way to our ears every day at the minute. The easy-to-imitate-notoriously-difficult-to-master genre has made a pulsating resurgence in the last few years. There was, of course, that mid-2000s semi-revival (anyone remember The Hives?), but we’ve had to wait a little longer for some real garage that goes back to its roots – gritty smut with attitude-a-plenty. On first listen to their debut EP Bloodlust, Brighton quartet Black Honey may lean closer to shoegaze a-la Ride and Slowdive. But sink a little deeper beneath the shimmering guitars and pop melodies and there’s something raw waiting to be unleashed. With support from two hotly-tipped Liverpool acts, that’s what we’re hoping for tonight.
It’s already pretty busy in Parr Street’s Studio 2 – presumably first support act Whitecliff have some fans in the audience too. Signed to Gary Powell’s label 25 Hour Convenience Store, the group recently put out their debut EP Young Lovers. The venue has those purpose-installed wood panelled walls and floors that gives it a Twin Peaks/ Cabin in the Woods sort of feel, but the practical acoustic benefits are rewarding.
It’s hard not to be impressed with the sound quality as they kick into their opener, Libertines and The Cribs-esque guitars dancing with some seriously fuzzy bass. Singer Olli Nagy certainly has confidence, wearing a flamboyant Hawaiian shirt and giving it his best Jim Morrison impression as his powerful vocals border on falsetto through some catchy and memorable choruses. It’s a tight set that has surely won them a few more fans tonight, and we’re predicting them to win over a fair few more in the coming months.
Liverpool’s own Scarlet take to the stage on the back of support slots with Neon Waltz, Pulled Apart By Horses and the mighty Bob Geldof & The Boomtown Rats. Theirs is a sound that leads you down a path of glistening dreamscape guitar and ethereal waves of vocals before delivering a pop-punk punch that is infectious and hard to stay still to. Jessie Robinson, who is sweet and modest between songs, comes alive when she sings – her lyrics revealed an inner steel that you would be unfortunate to get on the wrong side of.
Standout tracks include Your Control, full of lush, textured strings and echoing vocal effects that swirl around the room, while debut single Anyway has all the makings of a radio hit. It certainly has the crowd jumping to it’s nu-gaze brilliance. Don’t be surprised to see these hitting the big leagues soon, with headline shows of their own surely just around the corner.
In spite of their reluctance to step into the limelight, with singer Izzy Bee claiming ‘if it was my way we’d still be a secret band’, there’s a hefty crowd here by the time Black Honey take to the stage. Touring in support of Superfood will have done nothing to keep them under their rock either. Perched proudly atop the bass amp is Jerry the Lucky Flamingo, who the band joke ‘likes crowd surfing’ and that ‘it’s only a matter of time before someone does a runner with him’.
This comical addition aside, it’s apparent that things are about to get serious as the lights dim, Izzy gazes upwards to the stage lights and guitarist Chris Ostler strums out a distorted power chord straight out of the Link Wray back catalogue. Izzy’s voice has a mystical croon to it, but it doesn’t take long before she releases her inner banshee, bass and drums kicking in as she lets out a formidable screech. From here on in the spirit of garage is prevalent. It may not be full-blown MC5 but these songs have got fangs.
Their sound never wanders too far down one road, though it doesn’t sound non-committal either – they’ve got a clever knack of being able to keep their hazy mysticism while grinding out some head-bangers. We couldn’t help but think of early Garbage, and it’s not over the top to think of Izzy as Shirley Manson reincarnate – she’s got the same sultry swagger. The recently recorded Corrine is an absolute nugget that will find its way into plenty of radio DJ’s playlists, while Teenager is acid-bleached pop at its best that has way more fuzz live than its studio counterpart.
All we can say about Sleep Forever is that it may be the sexiest song we’ve heard in a long while. The band look gutted it can’t all go on a little longer as their set draws to a close amidst rapturous applause. After laying down their instruments, they hop to the merch stand to meet and greet fans, all smiles and apparently beginning to come to terms with their deserved popularity. It won’t be long before Black Honey drip into the mainstream and stick in many more new ears.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Martin Saleh.