[Photos: David Campbell Olson]
Unfortunately, the first act of the evening, Deadwalls, were forced to pull out of the show due to illness within their ranks and instead, the few that had gathered early at the renowned music venue were presented with projections of Fargo alongside atmospheric tunes and moody lighting. After listening to Deadwalls’ collection of tracks – produced by Hookworms’ MJ – the substitution in the bill was little in comparison to the inebriated fuzz and feedback of tracks like Eyes/White/Shut that I had built myself up for. As opposed to utilising the Brudenell’s stage, the remaining bands on the bill – Chaika and Lenin – had been set up on the floor area of the gig room, resulting in an increased intimacy and a somewhat auditorium-like feel to the show with crowds looking on largely from the raised area which curves around the usual standing section.
With Deadwalls unable to perform, Chaika opened the night and set the bar high right from the off. Storming straight into their set with an A-side from their self-released cassette, Scream Back/Coming Home, the band instantly energised the Brudenell with noise-inspired riffs and a tone reminiscent of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. As the title suggests, Chaika’s opener is a song of two distinct sections. With the first part of the track highlighting the bands louder, driving side, the second part showcases the bands more experimental, atmospheric abilities, climaxing at a hypnotic blend of thrashed drums and echoed vocals.
Throughout their set Chaika fused together elements of garage rock with neo-psychedelia,
showing hints of inspiration from Leeds’ own, Hookworms. However, each of the tracks had its own edge that distanced the band from the ever-expanding explosion of neo-psych. The group’s riffs were textured and punchy, and vocal lines were particularly characteristic, highlighting a fantastic range from the front-man. From the highs of Scream Back/Coming Home, the vocalist dropped to drone-like lows evocative of a raged Ian Curtis.
The band’s attention to detail was admirable with every track starting purposefully and transitions between intricately written sections rolling out effortlessly. Gathering momentum towards the end of their set, Chaika threw in a tempo-change that collided with the crowd, the result being nodding heads and groups of friends making brief moments of approving eye contact.
In reluctance to refer to it as a B-side due to its sheer catchiness and huge choruses, Chaika closed their set with the second side to their cassette, White Hare. The track brought together fuzzed-up sections, led by driving bass, with sitar-like guitar parts, pounding drums and winding vocal lines. With a real air of confidence, Chaika smashed through this last track, showcasing everything they had already proved of themselves.
Next up and putting the night to a close was Lenin, another Leeds-based four piece. Showcasing their dream-pop at the Brudenell, Lenin’s sound was distinctly different to Chaika’s and while both bands certainly set an ambient tone, the difference between the two bands lay in pace. Lenin put on a gloomy yet charming spectacle that was attributable largely to lethargic and swelling tracks that slugged out from the stage area. While both bands set a dark tone, Lenin left greater room between parts creating a softer tone to their performance.Aspects of Lenin were reminiscent of Warpaint;
not purely attributable to enchanting female vocals but also interesting and slightly irregular drum parts alongside keyboard parts that created a consistent sound which bound the set together. That said, by the middle of their set the band’s songs had become more progressive, with long crescendos climaxing powerfully alongside high, punchy-yet-delicate vocals. In these sections, the band were evocative of post-rock groups like God Is An Astronaut and Explosions In The Sky. While the start of the set left more space for atmospheric synthesiser parts, these sections showed the band coming together ferociously and competing with the loudness of Chaika.
Despite the fact that for the predominant proportion of their set, Lenin stayed largely within the realms of popular music with regard to structure and sound; elements of the set moved in a different direction and towards something much heavier. While Lenin stayed well clear of anything that could be regarded as ‘math’, sticking largely to regular time signatures, sections of the set sounded similar to the softer, more subtle side of bands like Rolo Tomassi – again not just in attribution to their female vocalist. These darker, heavier parts often fell at the end of the aforementioned crescendos and highlighted the band really powering through the gears with regard to energy. All in all Lenin put on a fascinating show rich in contrast but underpinned by a consistent and atmospheric undertone.
David Campbell Olson