Words by Rhiannon Humphreys
The launch night for Hunter From Fremonte’s debut EP ‘PINK’ in the Moon club started promisingly with Tobias Robertson, a singer-songwriter of outstanding talent. Robertson performed several songs from his upcoming EP, building his set up from the hauntingly sad ‘Black Door’ to more uplifting tunes, such as ‘Forward, Everyday’. As the venue filled, Robertson’s intimate set, which really showcased his masterful guitar playing and soulful voice, warmed up the crowd and drew them in in preparation for the rest of the night.
Next, in sonically stark contrast, followed No Association, a less well-known name in the Cardiff scene whose performance at this gig was their first with their new line-up. Self-describing themselves as a ‘punk-infused indie band’, with a sound similar to that of Slaves, the five-piece gave no impression that they had had a break from gigging, maintaining a thrilling, high energy performance throughout. The majority of their songs ran into each other with no break in between, which built intensity and allowed the band to sustain the enthusiasm of the crowd. They ended their set of otherwise original songs with a glorious rendition of ‘Shutdown’ by Skepta, creating one of the most electrifying atmospheres I have experienced at a Cardiff gig in some time.
Next followed youthful psychedelic punk band Telgate, a promising four-piece who are currently one of the ten acts that form this year’s Forté project, and whose flamboyant onstage personas refreshingly set them apart from Cardiff’s usual fare. Although they are usually noted for their exhilarating, heart-wrenching performances, fronted by vocal powerhouse Casper James, the band were not on their best form, and a downbeat atmosphere hung over what proved to be an uncharacteristically uninspiring set.
At last, the main event. The show had been promoted as a ‘concept gig’ – more like a piece of theatre than your usual concert experience – and the band had perpetuated this idea by giving out programmes at the start of the show, containing a cast list and summary of the night to come. The band began with their normal set, to be followed by a performance of their just released 4-track EP. The self-confessed ‘alt-boyband’ gave one of their most aggressively passionate performances to date. As the regular set ended and the EP was ready to begin, it was prefaced by a disembodied automated voice, announcing the context of what was to come. This proved less than effective in transitioning the gig into a piece of theatre, as much of the crowd had become to rowdy to pay attention to what was being said. The tracks were performed with studied emotional intensity, with their frontman Jj Gagg almost appearing to have a breakdown on stage during the third track ‘Found’, arguably the climatic point of the avant-garde EP. The first three songs shone, but unfortunately the last track, the vulnerable ‘Pick Me Up’, evaporated the theatrical atmosphere the band were trying to upkeep.
After three false starts, the group abandoned using a backing track, resulting in an unbalanced sounding rendition of what should have been a tear-jerkingly poignant end to the ‘PINK’ EP. However, after this soon forgotten stumble, the group reenergised the crowd with three encores, performing two of their oldest songs, ‘Want’ and Pavements’, followed by a raucous rendition of Cher’s ‘Believe’. In many ways, the gig was a success – people certainly left in high spirits and it was a night to remember. However, I was not convinced Hunter From Fremonte fulfilled their aim to produce a theatrical concept gig. What measures they did take were under-appreciated by the audience, and technical difficulties disturbed the dramatic tension that the band needed to maintain in order to achieve this end.