Radio 1 DJ Jen Long’s regular night at the Queen of Hoxton, Simply Rad, is generally pretty dependable for those seeking the hottest new bands, which means, if anything, expectations are extra high tonight.
Wild Swim have certainly got their sound locked down. Their lead singer oozes confidence, throwing out every word loud, proud and distinctive, as if he is telling a very important story. He owns the stage and holds your eye.
This is real pop, complete with harmonies but spun with intertwining rhythms and the odd bit of haunted house-style organ.
Headliners Psalms take to the stage and the difference in sound is stark in every sense. Where Wild Swim had a pure clarity, Psalms are grungy. This is their first ever gig, and it shows.
Their sound engineer has got it all very wrong. The vocals are lost beneath the pounding drums and the guitars are ruined by endless feedback. Between tracks the audience yells for the vocals to be turned up, to small avail.
With a slight adjustment, the female vocalists’ beautifully soft and delicate tones can be heard. The levels still aren’t good, but there is a sense that what lies beneath has potential – a satisfying clash of noisy, heavy guitars and angelic vocals.
A few audience members give up and the set is kept short, but next time, with the right levels, Psalms could prove worth sticking around for.