Wednesday, 26 October 2016

High Tyde - Brighton Boys' Tropical-Pop Thrills in a Familiar Way - The Wardrobe, Leeds, 25.10.16

“Leeds, it’s been a while,” announces Cody Thomas-Matthews as he shrugs off his denim jacket to excitable teenage screams, two songs into High Tyde’s brisk forty-five minute headline show at The Wardrobe. In fact, it’s only been two months since they played the BBC Introducing Stage up the road in Bramham Park – but as that’s technically Wetherby, it’s a toss-up. “How are we all doing tonight?” he asks the intimate crowd, whose response is to make as much noise as possible. He contemplates nodding, then shrugs and hits up the first notes of Safe on his Korg synthesizer.
High Tyde performing live in Leeds in 2016.
(Credit to Hullfire Radio).
The band – formed in Brighton by four school friends – are a distinctly British indie outfit and very much product of the obvious influences. There’s a touch of public-school about them at first glance – three members have double-barrelled surnames for good measure – and in drawing from the same musical well as Bombay Bicycle Club, they’ve done little to disabuse the notion. They may take their name from a lyric in a Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds track, but their output is far more chardonnay-chic than lager-lout, the type of music that carries itself with a melodic grace rather than a first to the face. It is palmtree-shaded pop, served upon a plate of indie dance-rock that has encapsulated the genre for the last decade or so.

Just because it’s familiar though doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in the odd spark of superb originality; rather, High Tyde’s output feels like a fresh take on a genre at risk of losing its identity. Entering to the dissonant rumble of deep-bass techno, with guitarist Spencer Tobias-Williams clad in an outrageously loud shirt, they tear into recent single One Bullet with a ferocity belayed by many of their influences, burying it under some good, old-fashioned riffage. It’s pleasingly heavy – perhaps a nod towards Foals’ What Went Down in its execution – but it differs by trading out brute strength for a vein of tropical-rock courtesy of Tobias-Williams that almost dances between the beefier bass of Thomas-Matthews and the rhythmic scuzz of Connor Cheetham’s fretwork. Follow-up Talk to Frank throws out staccato, siren-like guitar squeals, but contrasts them with a hip-hop drumbeat, courtesy of Louis Semlekan-Faith at the back. They even dabble in post-punk, through the juddering Feeling the Vibes, showing an impressive understanding of genre knowledge, if not an innate command of it through skill.

Such touches require fine musicianship, and for the most part, they deliver; High Tyde are a competent outfit, tight and well-honed. Thomas-Matthews and Cheetham both add sigh-brushed soundscapes to the choppy, angular Feel it, whilst Semlekan-Faith is the bedrock behind the propulsive Gold, all arena-size fills and whoa-oh singalongs. Indeed, the band’s mere presence creates a palpable atmosphere of giddy delirium amongst the predominantly college-aged crowd, who mosh furiously at any given opportunity to the bounce-along pop fare they are served. When Thomas-Matthews asks for a “singalong if you know it” on Do What You Want, the aural response is as equally deafening as the music. It’s unlikely to match teen-pop hysteria at its peak – but there is no denying that the band have their fans wrapped around their finger before a chord is even strum.
High Tyde performing live in Brighton in 2013.
(Credit to
Gripes could be made about the show length and choice of cuts; in a twelve-song set, the band exclude much of their earlier material, and the inclusion of tracks such as the technicolour burst of Karibu and the cacophonous Mustang Japan would have further widened their palate. And indeed, much of the set can feel oddly repetitive; the band are yet to mature their sound past the most obvious heart-on-sleeve acknowledgements, and it shows often throughout. But they are minor complaints with a well-executed performance by a band with a rapidly rising star. “Leeds, you’ve set the bar high tonight,” a sweaty Thomas-Matthews says after Speak. “We’ve got one more – you’ve been amazing.” And with that, they propel themselves into Dark Love, their most delicious melding of clarion-call guitars and scuzzy backing in their catalogue. With a sixth EP due imminently, High Tyde are dead-set on going places in the indie-pop world; and with this assured confidence about them, their sights are going to be pretty high.

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