REVIEW: Echo Lake @ The Hope and Ruin, 25/04/15

It’s official: summer is here (well, for all of a moment).

Kicking off the final semester on the 25th April at the Hope & Ruin were London shoegaze/dreampop band Echo Lake, supported by our fellow Brightonians, Realms, and quirky electronic artist, Moon Gangs.

It’s a funny thing when you note the members of Realms as being younger than you. On the one hand, it’s all self-deprecation as you wonder where your life possibly went wrong – after all, there they are playing to a crowd of thirty, all effortless aplomb, while you worry about assignment deadlines and the impending exam season. What a life. On the other hand, though, you feel an immediate sense of loyalty towards them, as though you’re watching your best friend’s siblings announce themselves confidently to the crowd. A slightly weaker start improves rapidly as they find their feet, as they play through a variety of tempos and showcase the female vocalist’s impressive range. Their interpretation of dreampop may come across a little overkill, however through heavy drums, dense distortion and hauntingly beautiful vocals, Realms leave an impression – even if we’re not totally sold by the glitter.

Second up is Moon Gangs – who we later note as Echo Lake’s bassist Will Young (no, not that one). Hunched over the keyboard, there’s not a lot to be said about the stage presence, but he makes up for it with concentrated, fluid synth – the entirety of his set possessing not a single moment of silence. There’s one thing that instantly springs to mind when listening to Moon Gangs: these varied, complementing pieces remind us of the Matrix theme a bit, and would be excellent as musical scores for a movie. It’s clever stuff, but truth be told, it’s not really our cup of tea. Moon Gangs could well be the pioneer for self-described sci-fi/synth, but unless he’s featured in the soundtrack for the next blockbuster dystopia flick, we probably won’t be listening to him.

Except, that is, when he’s playing for Echo Lake. We wrote a preview for the show in early April after being blown away by their latest album, Era, and were dying to know whether their live performance would live up to the expectation. The good news? It did. Opening with the excellent Waves, Linda Jarvis’ soft vocals weave intricately through drum tremolos and effervescent guitar riffs to the chorus, with its delicately keyed melodies. Its unexpected surf-rock reminiscent bridge is later imitated in a sped-up version of older track Last Song of the Year where, after a number of slower, rounded tracks, we really see the band let loose and have fun. As predicted though, Dröm steals the show – an extended reverberated introduction making way for layered tones that feel equally as daring and hypnotic as they do 90s alternative disco. A bassline as seductive as this is deserving of the outro, but Lake sadly don’t quite measure up to this magnitude for the remainder of the gig. All in all, a commendable showcase of their best tunes; we can’t wait to see how Thom Hill et al. progress in the future.

By Nammie Matthews

The Verse Staff

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