Image Credits: Rowan Moorsom

Warwick’s own musical talent shines during Offbeat gig

Arches Venue, Coventry, 20 February 2024

Multiple people around me make the same joke, “did you think this venue was real?”, “I can’t lie, I thought it was a bad prank or something”. In their defence, the middle of an industrial estate is a strange place for a concert – but it works. A bunch of people are milling about the smoking area talking, buying drinks, and waiting for the music to start as the sound of passing cars flitter away in the background. The venue is in a unexpected place but it helps feed into this sense that you aren’t really watching some disconnected bands who lurk in their dressing room until they are on stage but, instead, somewhere that you feel connected to everyone, where a drummer takes a swig of his pint in the middle of a song and a band finishes a set by getting everyone to sing happy birthday to a friend of theirs.

Once the music starts, you feel intimacy, the buzz of people. As Fragile Asians, a math rock band whose sound feels coarse and raw, start their set, the feedback echoes through the room, adding a layer of haze over the whole performance. Throughout their songs, filled with itchy building sections and furious breakdowns, with names such as ‘Cow’s Mouth Doesn’t Match the Horse’s Head’, which is a title so intriguing you feel slightly annoyed that you didn’t make it up yourself, it seems like seeing a band develop in real-time. Witnessing them gain an affinity for the crowd, to freely scream and thrash around and allow the catharsis that runs through their music to be realised.

All the emotions are poured into the music

Next up are indie band Dubrovnik, who are tasked with driving forward the energy that was left by Fragile Asians. Whilst it feels like a cliche to compare every band with a female lead singer to the handful that are already successful, Dubrovnik feel like a looser version of more recent Wolf Alice. If Blue Weekend (2021) is what it feels like to sit in your local pub in a strange haze as you contemplate what led you to spend too much on a bad pint and why your ex hates you, then Dubrovnik capture the feeling once you’ve left, where you break out of the malaise and go on with the dregs of emotion and cigarettes, clinging to your skin but going on anyway. When their lead singer, Amy, repeats “take me by the hand” over and over there’s this screech and yearning to it without sacrificing any technique, which feels like the truth for a lot of aspects of the band. Their bassist and drummer can provide a grounded rhythm section for the other members to explore different sounds on a whim, leading to the guitarist pushing through multiple electric riffs, in particular during ‘Deadline’. There’s a sense of freeness to them, allowing themselves to jam out, enjoy each other’s music, and trust each other on stage.

If Dubrovnik are able to capture the moment of breaking through the malaise, then Homebread are for that sinking feeling at 3 am, when the joys have worn off and you have to sit with yourself and all that’s happened to you. When their singer/guitarist, Noah, introduces a song with the admittance that “it’s about being sad and trans”, you know that it’s going to be both heart-wrenching and captivating. The band are, in their own words, “bringing Midwest emo to the West Midlands” and that sentiment is delivered perfectly in their music. Each song is built around these urges to craft a cathartic experience that it feels like putting it to music was almost an afterthought, that the emotions contained within them are so powerful that simply externalising them was enough and the music is a byproduct. It’s angsty and earnest, down to the lead singer nearly losing his voice mid-song and people move around unabashedly. By the time the band leave with this overextended guitar riff that descends into static noise, you feel barren. All the emotions are poured into the music.

It feels like having an intimate conversation with a friend after the haze of the night before

This leaves Aressa with the task of picking up the pieces of your soul – a hard task but one she takes in her stride. Despite the emotional nature of her music, Aressa herself is warm and kind, stating multiple times that she’s impressed that people have even decided to stay for her set. It feels like having an intimate conversation with a friend after the haze of the night before – you might cry a bit, as multiple people did during the encore song ‘Mr B’ but it’s worth it in the end, at least you’re getting it out there. Even when she lets go and cries “God f*cked up when he made me” over and over, it doesn’t feel like exclusively a lament, but rather something that gradually transforms into an acceptance of it. That you’ll be alright even if now everything is just too potent and that’s enough.

Throughout the different acts, there is a clear sense of connection between the bands and the audience. Partially because many of them stick around to watch the others perform, but also their collective ability to tap into something. A universal humanity, a genuineness or maybe just something as simple as a really good guitar riff, or watching a friend light up on a stage, creating beautiful music.



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