HOTWAX + THE JACKDAW + ORDALI – THE PRINCE ALBERT, BRIGHTON 13.9.22
Seeing a big turnout for a gig on a school night warms the cockles of my wee gig-going heart. Everyone in the scene knows how hard it is for the DIY bands they’re championing to fit music around a day job in big Tesco’s, so it’s wonderful to see that commitment being returned – if anyone deserves that kind of response, it’s HotWax. The Hastings-based trio are so clearly dedicated to their craft of making swirly little rock tunes that, on their second headline in Brighton, they’re pulling in a packed crowd.
Before we got to the headliners though, local support came to warm things up on a nippy September evening, first up from Ordali which is pronounced “or-dar-lee”.
Their front row of friends and there-from-the-start fans gave their all to the (admittedly very forced) pit that definitely lit a spark in the eyes of the performers themselves, seeming to remind them the crowd had their backs.
The singer’s voice was an absolute treat, gravelly and evocative from opening track ‘Crippling Need’ to the appropriately titled tearaway track ‘Fast Song’. However, it did feel like he was being let down by the rest of his band at times. All the members clearly have their own individual influences, but this led to a lack of whole-band identity and onstage nervousness, making them feel more like a house band thrown together instead of a cohesive outfit.
‘I Don’t Remember’
‘And I’m Lost’
‘Anything To Please’
‘Something Isn’t Right’
According to their poster, you can catch them in action next when they headline the Green Door Store for a free show on Monday 26th September.
The Jackdaw, though, genuinely impressed me. I don’t know what I expected from them after the alt-rock-y vibes of Ordali, but it definitely wasn’t a delightfully dramatic post-punk band with the best shouty frontman this side of Monakis.
I’m not complaining, though; in fact, their set was one of the nicest surprises I’ve seen at a gig in a good while. Songs like ‘Don’t Understand’ and their cover of ‘Rockafeller Skank’ gave off the energy of lively classic punk without being too overwhelming.
Brighton punk bands are notoriously a bit feral when they stomp about the stage, and don’t get me wrong, I do love that, but this lot have definitely mastered the art of a dramatic freezeframe.
It’s very much the type of music you’d mosh to with your hands behind your back, your pin badge-covered corduroy cap firmly lodged on your head.
The Jackdaw setlist:
‘Again and Again’
By the time we got to our headliners, the dramatic tone was firmly set. The smoky atmosphere (it’s Brighton, after all, it can’t always be helped) turned out to be a perfect fit for the moody psych-rock riffs offered up by HotWax.
Glowing reviews online talk about the Hastings-based trio being heavily rooted in teen angst, but without knowing this, you’d peg them as far older and wiser performers.
Like the band before them, they didn’t have to get all that sweaty to command the attention of the room. There was a sort of late nineties slacker punk sheen on a few of their tracks that let them bring down the tempo and simply rest on their thrones of effortless rock elegance.
‘What’s That Sound’ springs to mind as an example, boasting a disco revival-y pedal effect that pairs beautifully with the coolly cutting drawl of frontwoman Tallulah.
As a new listener, their sound wasn’t as heavy as I’d expected based on the punkier bills they’ve been a part of. Even songs like ‘Rip It Out’, with its aggressive name and lyrics of romantic co-dependency, tended slow and moody with ample room for the band to build quirky textures with their pedalboards.
When the band get their shout on, though, there’s a proper venomous edge to their sharp vocal delivery. Tallulah could be heard snarling with justified malice on ‘Barbie (Not Yours)’, one of their best known tracks for its tongue-in-cheek lyrics on objectification in the modern day.
The whole psych-rock songs to get high at Boomtown to vibe isn’t always my thing, but the genius in HotWax’s set was their refusal to conform to just one specific subgenre.
‘Keep Coming Back’
‘What’s That Sound’
‘When We’re Dead’
‘Barbie (Not Yours)’
‘Rip It Out’
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