Liverpool Sound City: The Phenomenal Handclap Band: The Masque


Spoonboy reimagines alt-careers for this hairy bunch of Brookyn space cowboys.

Whadayaknow? It’s another band from that New York borough (partly).
Blending neo-baggy grooves with funk-rock guitars and superfly seventies keyboard sounds, this seven-strong Brooklyn/Manhattan collective have just broken into the 6Music playlist with new single Baby.
The guitarist on the left has a tie-dyed shirt and the disposition and hair (facial and cranial) of Justin Lee Collins. He and a similarly enthusiastic and hirsute guitarist on the right of the stage act like groovy bookends to the two girls and guy occupying centre stage, on keyboards, vocals and percussion, who are all black hair and sulky pouts.
It’s an odd juxtaposition. The central three probably thought they were joining an electro band but went to the wrong rehearsal room and got sucked in by the Handclap hive-mind.
Nevertheless, they make a lush noise together, with several tunes featuring blissed-out choral vibes straight out of Hair (the musical). The hippie guitarist is the best singer in the band by a moonlight mile, wrapping his tonsils lovingly around some Bill Withers chord changes.
I sometimes play this game – guessing the profession each band member would choose if they had to give up music. The girl on the right has all the humour of a chemistry teacher. The rhythm section are already probably secret web designers. Furry guitar man on the other hand, would give out free hugs on Times Square for the rest of his days.
In the set closer, an Age of Aquarius-style epic, it seems the stage is about to levitate to the throbbing, anthemic juggernaut of sound. They even throw in some handclaps!
Not a phenomenal amount – just enough to justify the dodgy name.
Photography courtesy of Sakura Zilla, Michelle Roberts and Amina Bihi.