FREYA BEER + WINTER GARDENS + EVERYDAY SAINTS + MISSION CREEP – THE HOPE & RUIN, BRIGHTON 27.9.23
Wednesday at The Hope & Ruin was another good night of new music at ‘Hidden Herd Presents’. This is Brighton’s monthly night, spotlighting the exciting emerging artists, ones-to-watch and hidden gems. September’s line up featured Freya Beer, a gothic singer songwriter from London, and local bands Winter Gardens, Everyday Saints and Mission Creep.
Opening on Wednesday were Brighton quartet Mission Creep, who are a progressive alternative band combining elements of soul and math rock. Evident from the very start was singer Amber’s extraordinary voice. She opened the first song with very beautiful soulful singing, and as the music built to a rock sound, she effortlessly matched it. Her powerful voice never had to shout or strain to be heard above the band’s music. I had no idea what their description ‘Math-Soul’ was, but hearing the mix of Amber’s soulful vocals and the math-rock sound, I now get it. And it really worked.
The highlights of the set were the band’s two single releases. Mission Creep’s latest single ‘Heartbeats’ was a slower number. Like most of the songs in their set, it built with a rock style guitar solo from Angus in the instrumental break later in the song. At times in the set bassist Gus was almost headbanging along to the band’s guitar riffs. Mission Creep closed their set with their debut single ‘Patterns’, a stunningly layered song fluctuating between loud and quiet.
Their mix of soul, rock and even some hints of late-night jazz was well received by the crowd at The Hope & Ruin. To sum up Mission Creep, Math Rock + Soul = a very impressive and entertaining performance.
Amber – vocals
Angus – guitar
Dan – drums
Gus – bass
Next up were an exciting new four-piece from Brighton, Everyday Saints, who describe themselves as “evil dingepop disco vampires”. The band’s look with two of them dressed in long white dresses like wedding dresses, and the other two on black gave a clue to the horror movie inspired sounds to come. That sound was evident from their first song, which had an out of this world feel from a horror flick. Their second song ‘Was The Gun’ featured the striking vocal harmonies between Pip and Jade. The song used sound effects which could have been from a 1960’s sci-fi film, and had more of a pop disco feel. Throughout the set Jade’s creative synth parts, which harked back to 80s new wave, added to the haunting, but far from gloomy, atmosphere of Everyday Saints performance. While Gary added some notable dancey basslines.
Pip and Jade sang together at the very edge of the stage for their single ‘Distress Yourself’ a goth pop song with an interesting disco synth beat. The following song ‘Soma’ by contrast was a louder rockier number. Everyday Saints closed their superb set with ‘Pink Kiss’ which started with a ghostly almost intimidating intro. The song’s slower, more menacing sound then built as the tempo increased.
Pip later told me that somebody had described the band as “a spooky ABBA”, which was a good description of their combination of disco pop and goth. The dark and brooding vibes from Everyday Saints worked very well live and the band really grew into their performance. A band to watch out for and catch live, if you get the chance.
Pip – vocals guitar
Jade – vocals synth
Gary – bass
James – drums
Next up were Sussex band Winter Gardens with their own blend of shoegaze dreampop. From their opening song ‘Crystallise’ it was clear that there was a punchier edge to their sound on Wednesday. The strong performance from Jamie on guitar, Will on bass and Connor on drums seemed key to this development. They seemed to drive the sound forward, while allowing the synth to play its part in a gentler way. ‘Crystallise’ had a good dance beat reminiscent of the likes of Working Men’s Club and PVA with Ananda’s celestial vocals sitting on top. Next up was the band’s debut single ‘Coral Bell’ with a more indie pop sound.
‘Zigzanny’ showcased Ananda and Jasmine’s wonderful vocal harmonies, with them opening the song with minimal accompaniment. When the guitars and drums kicked in later, the song remained balanced allowing the vocals to still shine. That balance was also clear on the next track ‘Wonders Bleak’ on which Connor’s bold drumming contrasted perfectly with the softer synth and vocal parts. These songs were good examples of the fresh soundscape in which the ethereal haze of shoegaze and dream-pop combined with the energy of post-punk. This mix was also evident in the band members’ stage presence. Will and Jamie were more dynamic with guitarist Jamie in particular striking classic rock guitar poses. Whereas singers Ananda and Jasmine were relatively more stationary, but still dancing along.
There was a change in style with their latest single ‘Moonjocky’ which exploded with Connor’s drums and a very danceable funky guitar tune. This led to even more people in the audience dancing along. Winter Garden closed their superb set with ‘Laminar Flow pt. II’, which also had a great underlying disco beat. There was loud applause after the track faded to its close.
Effortlessly combining hard-edged soundscapes with Ananda and Jasmine’s heavenly vocals, Winter Gardens provided an eclectic kaleidoscope of disparate sounds. It was arguably the best performance I’ve seen from Winter Gardens. It was strong, varied, confident and above all very entertaining. From the audience’s reaction, I think many would have agreed.
Jamie Windless – guitar
Ananda Howard – vocals
Jasmine Ardley – keyboard and vocals
Will Cuchford – bass
Connor McCorkindale – drums
Winter Gardens setlist:
‘Laminar Flow pt. II’
Closing a great night of new music at ‘Hidden Herd Presents’ was goth-pop priestess Freya Beer, a singer-songwriter from West London. For her live show at The Hope & Ruin, Freya was joined on stage by an additional guitarist, bassist and drummer. Freya Beer deftly mixed poetic lyrics with a distinctive gothic noir of Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, and David Lynch.
Freya Beer opened their set with a couple of strong alt-rock tracks, ‘Arms Wide Open’ and ‘Galore’. The following number ‘Groupie’ was mellower which allowed more space for Freya’s gothic vocals to shine. ‘Beauty’ was another good up-tempo goth-pop song. ‘Siren’ showed another side of Freya’s voice, with a spoken narrative at start and a starker delivery later in the song, both which worked well. The next song ‘W.H.O. (Write Her Off)’ was introduced as a new song never played live before. With its strong thumping drums, and more direct, punchier sound, it got The Hope & Ruin rocking and people dancing. There was a tender part to close this interesting new song.
‘Put It To The Test’ started with Freya singing with minimal accompaniment. There was more variety in her vocals on this song, which were delivered with even more emotion. On ‘Dear Sweet Rosie’, my highlight of their set, Freya mixed heavy breathing with her more tender singing. This indie-rock song had loud quiet contrasts around the vocal parts.
Freya Beer closed a good set with their latest single release ‘Fantasy’. There was a somewhat awkward end to the performance, as the band finished the song, and it was unclear whether there was another song. Freay said her closing thanks-yous as the PA music started. Realising the performance had finished there was delayed polite applause from the audience. I thought Freya Beer deserved better reception, but this may have been more a result of the almost bizarre ending to their performance, than its quality.
Freya – vocals, guitar
Owain – drums
Kostas – guitar
Arine – bass
Freya Beer setlist:
‘Arms Wide Open’
‘W.H.O. (Write Her Off)’
‘Put It To The Test’
‘Dear Sweet Rosie’