England hadn't quite got the dream pop, nu-gaze sound in their palms, that is peeping it's facets out from the gravelled terrain that is musical popularity, around the world. Bands such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Diiv and Deerhunter are dearly loved for producing hazy synth-washed guitar music. Among this throng Gengahr have sprouted, touring this year with alt-J and Wolf Alice, and released their first record, A Dream Outside. There's no ground for dispute if I say that it has been a resounding breakthrough year for Gengahr.
The first support act was Pumarosa, with an impressive set up of drum machines, synths, samplers and an ethereal alto sax, all under the supervision of Tomoya Suzuki. Their self-described genre is catalogued as Industrial Spiritual, on social media. Singer Isabel Munoz-Newsome dances with stray arms, like Ian Curtis, closes her eyes and becomes completely insular. Before the final song, she tells the audience “this is our new single, ‘Priestess’. Get it now.”Her voice floated around the room like a bluebird, fluttering on the steady bass line.
Cash+David are a duo that use a tour drummer on the road. The two main components of the band are the keys/drum machinist Tim Ross and guitarist-vocalist Liz Lawrence (who Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman describes as “Liz better-than-Mary-J-Blige Lawrence” on their Live Lounge cover of Disclosure’s ‘F For You’). Some have described their sound as comparable to The xx, but Cash+David posses a much more stridency, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ riffs with electro-pop throbbing tones. They play a new track called ‘Bloodsucka’.
After the impressive support, the headline act Gengahr came through the back stage door and huddled on to the small Think Tank? stage. Bassist Hugh, in his amiable awkwardness, shuffled across to to the front corner of the stage. The band spun in to their opener ‘Dizzy Ghosts’. With only their debut and a recently released EP entitled Tired Eyes, their set list is composed pretty much parallel to their album structure, with maybe a song from the EP or one of the b-side tracks.
Half way through the set, an unfortunate technical difficulty made Felix rig up an amp he dragged from the side of the stage. He kept his composure and carried on as normal.
Like the album, the instrumental ‘Dark Star’ broke up Gengahr’s set. It was introduced by Felix announcing “this one’s a dancy little number.” The repetitive, chiming guitar accompanied by a pronounced rhythm section of drums and bass are reminiscent of kraut-rockers Can’s more unorthodox, early releases, with their bouncy instrumentation.
Gengahr return to the stage after a rendition of ‘Fade To Black’, and closed with ‘She's A Witch’. This single is undeniably the one song that receives the most attention from their oeuvre. ‘Maybe she’ll sink, maybe she'll fly / I've got a witch that cries all the time’ Felix opens up with his mellifluous falsetto, and a fizzling garage-rock solo before the final verse.
This was the penultimate date of their UK tour before heading off to Europe. This year is nearly up, but the amount that Gengahr have prospered, and their beguiling live performances all throughout the UK this year have proven that they will become one of he name among the American and Australian groups that dominate the nu-gaze revolution.