By Max Modell
It was always going to happen, things were going to get weird. After a highly enjoyable first few days, any worries of the music getting stale were quickly whipped out at Clwb Ifor Bach last night, which hosted some of the most subversive music we are likely to get at this year’s festival.
When you think of alternative music it tends to draw to mind images of edgy trashing guitars. Yet this isn’t truly alternative. What has been defined as alternative in terms of genre has become mainstream and conforms to normal structures of pop and rock music. So, when I describe Farm Hand as alternative it has to be understood to be outside of this traditional understanding of alternative music. Instead, Farm Hand offers something truly alternative sharing more similarities with an interactive art show than alternative music. The performance of Farm Hand combined looped electronic beats, with seizure-esque dancing and strange vocals effects, culminating in one of the oddest performances I have ever seen. Farm Hand embraces the oddness and the social awkwardness which his performance style creates as if it is his safe space. While this may make some audiences feel uncomfortable if you just embrace it then Farm Hand will take you on a dark spiralling journey through his psyche and will leave you in awe of what you have just experienced.
Vive La Void
Vide La Void followed as the subversive performances continued, with her ethereal, atmospheric, electronic music. This created a spacey vibe with thrumming low-end synths and melodic vocal lines running throughout. The space vibe of Vive La Void was only added to by her aesthetic decision to project spinning lights behind, creating a captivating silhouette. This decision was vital to the success of the set as using more conventional lighting set up may have lacked edge, after all, there is only so much to you can do with your stage presence when you are simultaneously playing three synths.
Sonically the music was reminiscent of a more experimental Emily Haines who had dived into a black hole of electronics. Much of this came for Vive La Void ‘s vocal which contained definite similarity to Haines’s. As the set went on the sound grow fuller and more complex, as the layers of synths grow and the audience got more and more involved with Vive La Void’s music. By the end, it was impossible not to be lost in the sounds Vive La Void was creating.
The neo-psychedelic rock of Canadians Suuns was next. The band provided a punk-esque performance while also providing music that was melodically interesting. While it is often a criticism to say all of a band’s songs blurred into one it was a positive for Suuns who never stopped playing throughout their 45-minute set. The sound for industrial with lots of guitar feedback and drumming that would feel at home on a progressive metal album. The band somehow managed to balance complex song structures which had clearly been well rehearsed with the chaos of a live performance where they truly lost it. This provided a fanatic energy and a feeling that anything could happen. While the music may not sound as good as it does it the record the experience compensates for this and shows why people say Suuns are a band who need to be seen live.