Bleached + Veronica Falls @ Tufnell Park Dome, London, 23 Oct
Another dream line-up from the excellent RockFeedback is rock n’ roll post-punk storm Bleached and sombre-twee indie darlings Veronica Falls, both of whom the girls are have seen before. Neither of the bands talk very much, but they give great performances which judging by the applause (rather than the slightly disappointing lack of dancing) are enjoyed by the crowd.
Jennifer and Jessica Clavin have not taken this idea as far as Shonen Knife’s alter ego The Osaka Ramones, but could easily contend to be a Californian Ramones haired Jennifer in tight black jeggings, high heels and a lace top, Jessica in red DMs and a college jacket look awesomely cool, and keep everyone’s attention by going wild to their tunes. The live versions of the songs off their debut album Ride Your Heart, aided by Micayla Grace on bass and Jonathan Safleys really hard to believe the Dome audience is barely moving.
The Clavin sisters rip through a bunch of favourites like ‘Next Stop’, ‘Looking For A Fight’, ‘Dead In Your Head’, ‘Searching Through The Past’ and ‘Think Of You’ shaking their heads so hard that their long hair is flying in all directions, bending over their guitars, shredding. The only issue is that even with a few requests to up the mic, the vocals could still be louder – they get a bit lost in the noise. ‘Love Spells’ sends Bleached into another frenzy, and then Jennifer puts her guitar down and goes completely off the hook. They play some older b-sides like ‘Dazed’ or ‘Electric Chair’ and also a new song, which starts out slower, very melodic, leading to an awesome solo and still pretty noisy throughout. Jennifer loses her pick at one point but just picks it right up and continues playing, never losing her cool. The final ‘When I Was Yours’ also starts slow, but gets very noisy and frantic towards the end, finishing with an epic jam with Jen on her knees, head down, guitar up, and Jess jumping off the drum kit – they reminded us of Wild Flag and their acrobatic stage antics.
the girls are is not too impressed with Veronica Falls‘ Brighton gig, the day after the show at The Dome, but the night we see them in London they are on pretty good form. It’s true that audience communication is sparse at first, and mainly delivered by drummer Patrick Doylebut later all band members take turns to thank the audience, Bleached, gig organisers… Veronica Falls’ energy is very different to that of Bleachedless raw, which can probably be read as more reserved, but equally involved. They start with their second ever single ‘Beachy Head’, referring to the highest seaside cliff in the UK which serves as a frequent suicide spot, and with all the smoke on stage, the low lighting and the band’s slightly mysterious aura it has a very spooky effect. The mood lightens with a few songs coming from the more mellowed out second album Waiting For Something To Happengrabbing riffs and a sense of longing, but are less urgent than some we heard on Veronica Falls’singer Roxanne Clifford even if it’s inaudible/inaccessible on some level, Lost In Translation-like, little moments like this really make the show.
The audience livens up visibly when the band breaks into their first single ‘Found Love In The Graveyard’, and it’s back to more smoke and chills down your spine. ‘If You Still Want Me’ keeps that mood and together with the vocal exchange between the singers makes it sound a bit like it could have fallen out of the xx‘s back catalogue (maybe only slightly sped up). The chemistry between guitarists and singers Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare is not explosive, but evident – neither of them takes centre stage, Clifford sometimes turns to Hoare and kicks in his direction, they exchange looks or laughs, and sometimes actually walk over and play together in the middle, looking at each other rather than the audience. They have their amazing massive matching Gretsch guitars – Clifford a red, Hoare a brown one. The band’s look is also quite a change from Bleached’s slick punk style – Veronica Falls are also all dressed in black (or brown), but give off a darker vibe, more like they came out of a Tim Burton 90s movie (especially with Clifford’s cropped shirt and shorts and an awesome 90s asymmetrical chin-length haircut). They play a new song ‘Nobody There’, and the highlight of WFSTH, ‘Teenager’. ‘Bad Feeling’ continues the darker mood, which picks up to a more danceable one with ‘Wedding Day’ and ‘Come On Over’ – there’s mosh pit attempts in the audience. Before the last one, Hoare takes his guitar off, thinking the set is over, and only once he turns to go off stage and sees bassist Marion Herbain still poised to play, he has a quick whispered exchange with her and comes back to his spot, which again is a sweet and intimate moment to witness. There are encores, of course, because the audience stomps and screams like crazy, including bangers ‘All Eyes On You’ and ‘Right Side Of My Brain’, and, unexpectedly, the b-side cover of Roky Erickson‘s ‘Starry Eyes’, a long-time favourite that made many fall in love with Veronica Falls in the first place.
It’s hard not to feel exhilarated after two performances like this, so the girls are go home hyped, satisfied, and excited for the future.