With the irony of a Happyness show in Liverpool not lost on him, Getintothis‘ David Hall left the tickling stick at home to catch some summery vibes instead.
A promise-fulfilling new album Write In tucked under their arms, recently released on Moshi Moshi Records, Happyness were riding a wave of hype as they shifted into touring mode in Liverpool. Their latest is a smile-inducingly goofy, slackerish affair where sunshine college rock meets shoegaze glistening with feelgood sweat, but is largely untested on the road.
In support, Liverpool’s War Room Records-signed AGP, now expanded to a quartet from Andrew Parry‘s solo bedroom ambience, went from grungy alt-rock with comforting swells of fuzz and squonky, jagged Joey Santiago guitar lines to fluid, spacey shoegaze in a short space of time, all over a sickeningly delicious groove. Early-comers to Hardman Street relaxed and enjoyed their set, as did the band who saved their finest track to the finale with an extended jam which was heavy on emotion-fueled choruses and radiating hooks. Without being perfect, the future is tangibly bright for AGP.
Her’s, meanwhile were for lovers, the duo winning over many swooning fans with retro-sounding, classically-inspired pop, all served up by the seaside. Their pastel-coloured surf pop was pleasing, though their inter-song patter was just a gold lame jacket away from bingo caller. But maybe that’s the point.
If Her’s were all mad Mondrian-esque angles, then Happyness’ texture was much more nuanced. At first this seemed to catch the Buyers Club crowd off guard as they shuffled close to the stage. The loose, jammy nature of the South Londoners’ material failed to hold the audience’s attention, recent single Falling Down passing them by. Any good vibes seemed lacking, until the choppy chords and whooped vocals of It’s On You kicked in, lifted from 2014 album Weird Little Birthday.
Then, the sudden injections of noise on The C Is A BAG stirred the Buyers crowd, and by the second half of their set, Happyness had encapsulated the room in their hypnotic, at times euphoric glow. The plodding, groovy Naked Patients exploded into life with a distorted guitar outro, and the baroque piano lines of noodling new track Through Windows showcased an unexpected new direction for the band.
Perhaps it took a while for Liverpool to latch onto the four piece’s West Coast vibes, but they were well and truly locked in following some gentle persuasion. A standout version of You Come To Kill Me?! came on like Pavement at their most frazzled, but with a finely tuned melodic focus.
It took time for those hooks to bite live, and they certainly seemed less immediate than on record. But they’re definitely belligerent. By the time their set had concluded in a Yo La Tengo-ish firestorm of noise, the sense was that Happyness had won over the Liverpool audience as the house lights clapped on.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam.