We live in a time where new bands gage buzz worthy credentials through a glittering social network presence and brand attention, sometimes even before writing one original guitar riff. London based four-piece Hidden Charms are no different, already attracting the attention of huge fashion names Pretty Green and recently appearing on an acoustic session for Burberry, as well as two members debuting on the Autumn Winter ’15 campaigns. With suspiciously perfected dishevelled hairdos and skinny scarves, it wouldn’t be too much to question the actual musical abilities of the foursome, and with a new single release and UK tour impending, we went to The Waiting Room in London’s Stoke Newington to see what all the fuss was about.
Packed into the downstairs intimate venue, the warm up band of the evening, Sankofa, stepped onto the stage to play a short, but most definitely worthy of a mention, half an hour set. Quite possibly showing the headliners up both vocally and lyrically, the almost unknown Liverpool based four-piece hit revellers with a distinct blend of swirling guitars and melodic hooks. With a comparatively humble stage presence, and tightly in sync production, tracks such as ‘Grasp’ highlighted Sankofa’s abilities to create haunting blues worthy psychedelic rock. A band name derived from Ghanian language and lyrics exploring human conflict and environmental impact, Sankofa were nothing less than engaging.
*NOTE: these boys are on PLEDGE (yes, apparently it’s still a thing) and are well worth donating to in order to release their (potentially brilliant) album.
At around 9:30pm and with the venue at full capacity of the sold out show, Hidden Charms took to the stage greeted with a rapturous applause (perhaps my pre-judgements were wrong). Starting off with more than a few teething issues on a sloppy opener, admittedly through no fault of the boys’ own (the keys couldn’t be heard), the band attempted to hit their set with full reverberating force. However, the second hiccup held unavoidable blame as guitarist Ranald Macdonald leapt from the stage to retrieve his guitar from the dressing room, putting the show on hold as he consequently stopped to then tune the instrument. All in the name of rock and roll though, right? Plus amateur hiccups do inevitably happen. Unfortunately if the boys’ overwhelmingly, and yet to be justified, arrogant stage presence was anything to go by, it could have been quite a hard hiccup to recover from.
For a band that to this point has seemed to hold more press attention for their vintage inspired dress sense than their music, it was most definitely a pleasant surprise when the tracks did finally hit full swing. Sounding like a Beat group straight out of 1965, the rhythm and blues influences, melodic catches and soulful psychedelic edge was undeniably dance worthy. A giddy energy through catchy licks in tracks such as ‘It’s Time’, ‘Gonna Be Your Man’ and ‘Sunnyside’ earned the band fighting points in withholding their credibility. Lyrically, repetitive choruses and lacklustre ‘oohs’ and ‘la la las’ left a lot to the imagination, but arguably form fitting for the bands own version of bluesy ’60s pop. Showcasing more mod like, youthful charm in newest track ‘Dreaming Of Another Girl’, that’s reminiscent of early sounds from The Coral mixed with a splash of The Who, the band ended their set on a high note.
With media attention hooked on Hidden Charms appearance and stylistic choices, it does appear quite a shame that their promising sounds have been thus far overshadowed, however if the young and similarly trend driven crowd are anything to go by, the retro revival band are certainly catching the attention of a new visually obsessed generation.