Commencing 22:34 last Tuesday evening, after the initial kerfuffle of monitor adjustments and instruments being tuned, bassist of the pop duo Her’s, Audun Laading, started addressing the enthusiastic crowd. With boisterous vivaciousness, Laading could be described as a Scandinavian James Corden, garnering many a chuckle from the audience, however, what seemed amiss in this situation was the initial reclusiveness of lead singer Stephen Fitzpatrick. As they are a duo utilizing backing tracks as a means for percussions, you’d think the two, or at least the lead singer and guitarist would retain more personality when presenting oneself on the stage.
All the previous concerns with their stage presence dissipated once they broke into their first song of the night, ‘Dorothy’. Self-characterized as a dream pop band, their sound could additionally be described as 80’s guitar riffs meets The Beach Boys’ nostalgic harmonies. In true 80’s fashion, the bass was slapping, creating a rhythmic pulse that had the masses swaying.
I’d like to emphasize the word masses, for that is what it was. Anyone who has ever attended any gigs at the Old Blue Last knows it to be a quaint and charming pub, smack dab in Shoreditch, East London. To call it compact is a favourable term to describe its capacity, as it is divided into two levels, the whole maximum capacity amounting to roughly 150 people.
That being established, and this show being a free Dice event, like-minded music lovers were all gathered, elbow to elbow, hip to hip, in the little upstairs room of the pub. There was a couple of times my drink might have unfortunately grazed the fabric of an innocent bystander (to whom I sincerely apologize, again) simply because of the jostling in the crowd.
On another note, and back to the music, we somehow finagled our way from the back of the crowd towards a more enviable midsection, our views less constricted by taller persons in the room. Fitzpatrick, by now, having gained more traction and confidence was belting out sweet melodies effortlessly and with an eclectic flair, I can only describe as vocal peacocking.
To elaborate what I mean by vocal peacocking, Stephen would start the song in a low lull, letting the guitar riffs hit the high notes, and just as each verse would end, he’d insert a little Cindy Lauper-esque hiccup, which my description does not do justice. Have a listen for yourself, you’ll see what I mean.
On a whole, their set was pretty solid. Songs that particularly stood out were ‘What Once Was’, ‘Marcel’, ‘I’ll try’, and their exit song ‘Cool with you’. Though the initial dynamic of the band came across as anything but conventional, as the night grew older and the spectators became more familiar with the band, it began to dawn on us how fitting the setup really was. Her’s is an unconventional band, so naturally, the dynamic between the Fitzpatrick and Laading is quirky and unorthodox.
However unorthodox they may be, however, whether it be their personality or nerves of the evening, potty humour and poop confessions were not appreciated, and quite frankly a bit cringe. The nervous laughter and sympathy sniggers made it very apparent that us, the crowd, all clutching our craft lagers and IPAs tightly had outgrown the toilet humour the band still found amusing.
As the clock struck 11, the lights came on as the familiar noise curfew time had arrived, signalling the end of the evening. The duo put on a solid performance, delivering more than what could be expected from a free event on a Tuesday night. All criticism aside, the boys seemed like lovely guys, and though I was only able to approach Stephen, the guitarist and main singer after the show, he was nothing but pleasant and affable, to say the least.
Thus, to conclude this review, I would have to give Her’s a big thumbs up for delivering quality songs that were thoroughly enjoyable, so much so I haven’t stopped listening to them since the gig. Their stage presence and conduct can be refined with time, and with that, this seems to be a band coming up on the horizon for big things.
Written by Devon Potter