Some bands would like you to trust their buoyancy, staying afloat for that lifesaving shot at a festival coverage soundtrack. You know the type: the 1975-ers, the nice boys at the front, pretty ok but never dangerous. Only now and then, a band like VYNCE come along and do it right, massaging an ache you never knew you had. Sweet-toothery isn’t a bad thing for the four-piece; they’ve been going at it for two years, and they’re getting much closer to hitting the spot, maybe a song away from real endearment.
Their guitars are a waterfall of joie de vivre, mirroring one another well. April Showers is the best example of starry-eyed indie this side of a Fearne Cotton interview; their cover of Just Like Heaven is warm and unrushed, accruing goodwill for a slightly dampening Saint Lucia. They’re almost the perfect high-school band, impossibly likeable, yet perhaps afraid to be truly different.
The night doesn’t stay like that for long. As GULF get going, you can feel the room find new dimensions of space, expanding like a sigh from held breath. Now that they’ve picked up some experience, it’s time to see what Mark Jones and co. are doing under the buzz. The answer seems to be: funk and then some, overseen with the grace of a plane leaving an airport. “Just enjoy whatever is behind us,” smirks Jones as their blooping, bubbling animated backdrop encounters a few issues – they don’t need it, but it’s de rigueur for bands tripping on their own sound to request the full psych show. They justify the label with a brilliant Tell Me Again, and at this rate they’ll be writing riffs in their sleep, striking for shimmering horizons of untold genre.
Off the back of this support, TOPS seem ready to lap up the crowd’s enthusiasm, although they are incredibly and instinctively great, so maybe they don’t need the encouragement. They take the stage with such poise and down-home honesty that, within minutes, the night is entirely theirs. Another golden egg from the goose of Montreal’s music scene, they have the brash disco spirit of Nile Rodgers, and the cool sheen of sun-bleached Americana in singer Jane Penny. For a group so young, they are relaxed, ensconced in classicism, bringing out the lounge stalk of Sleeptalker as easily as they nail the moonlight groove of 2 Shy and Circle The Dark. This is a band that have listened to their parents’ records and caught the hiss of running vinyl. Each song follows the next with a yearning for romance and dim silhouettes of love, feeding the twang of David Carriere’s thoughtful playing style. Outside represents a moment of solace, dragging us into hillside shadows where violet, violent seduction skirts at their fringes. Penny admits to loving Liverpool, but not having a clue what anyone’s saying. The chorus of “what?” shouts from the crowd pepper the sense that further communication is needless; all the drama and attention we can expect is right there, in shades of smeared lugubriousness. They save Way To Be Loved, their inaugural floor-filler, till last – Penny pauses for the final chorus, delaying the climax, until she and the group ride a ferocious note of triumph into the evening.