On the 11th and 12th May, Gold Sounds returned to the Brudenell Social Club. The festival has rightly earned bragging rights for its ability to select the best of the alternative music world before they break through, with previous years hosting now-well known acts including Bodega, Phoebe Bridgers, Shame, Goat Girl and Hinds to name but a few.
Hull post-punkers LUMER kicked off the first day with their welcome return to stage after a four-month absence. Charged up with renewed vigour, they ploughed through a set of entirely unreleased material, and proved worthy for those that braved the afternoon rain that hung over much of the first day. Unfortunately, Irish industrial shoegazers Just Mustard, one of our picks for the festival, had to pull out due to travel problems, so it was left to Working Men’s Club to provide the next highlights. The West Yorkshire group are still relatively fresh on the scene, but are already starting to make a name for themselves, recently signing to legendary label Heavenly Records. Blending Parquet Courts-style post-punk with a more pop edge evident in the catchy choruses of their debut track ‘Bad Blood’, the BBC 6music faves may likely become one of those groups that Gold Sounds can claim it found well ahead of the curve.
Representing the US was North Carolina’s The Nude Party. Bringing a relaxed brand of ‘boner pop’ to the Brude and on tour supporting their 2018 debut LP, they provided a welcome escape from the damp conditions outside. Regrettably, I missed Partisan Records’ Pottery as the day progressed. The Montreal group are just starting a short EU tour and are likely to follow IDLES and Fontaines D.C. in becoming the next of Partisan’s bands to gain widespread critical acclaim. Not to worry though cos they played in Leeds again two days later (yeah I missed that one as well). Next up in the Main Room were Pip Blom making the trip over from Amsterdam. A name that I’d heard bouncing around for a few months but had failed to follow up on aside from the occasional radio listen, the Dutch bedroom project-turned-group flew through the first 45-minute set of the day with an impressive amount of energy. Another off the line-up signed to Heavenly Records, they made a well-argued case to check out all the bands on the bill, regardless of previous knowledge, and were possibly my pick for the first day.
Queen Zee followed in the Community Room. Hailing from Birkenhead, the group have been growing in stature since the release of their debut LP in February, earning them a slot before headliners The Blinders. Not my personal cup o’tea, but their pure energy and power was undeniable, and fans of the genre will have had more than their fill with the Merseyside rockers. Speaking of The Blinders, they returned once again to Gold Sounds for a triumphant headline slot. Occupying the main room for a full hour, they powered through tracks from last year’s debut LP ‘Columbia’ with little relent. No strangers to the Yorkshire music scene, top billing at Gold Sounds was just reward for a group that’s climbed its way up through the region’s venues. Unfortunately, those wanting to catch the start of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs’ closing set had to head off early to the Community Room, but those who did were justly rewarded. The Pigs exceeded all expectations this year and have ended up spearheading a renaissance of British metal. A slot at the end of the day might have thrown them a few curveballs; some of the crowd had clearly indulged a bit too far by this point and presented the band with an audience that is unlike that of a usual Pigs gig, but they handled it well and the crowd calmed down after a telling off from singer Matt Baty. Long live the Pigs.
Hull dream pop/shoegazers bdrmm brought us into the sunny second day at the Brudenell, and hold the accolade for the only band to start on time. Fresh up from a one in-one out show in Brighton the day before, and under the wing of Leeds’ Pizza For The People, they’re turning into a real force within the Yorkshire alternative scene. They’ll be back on 13 th June playing Oporto. With the main room already behind by an hour before the first band, local post-punk group L.D. Moses were up next. They’ve installed themselves rather suddenly in the Leeds scene, and show local influences almost too openly. Vocals could be plucked straight out of Eagulls, and while they’re clearly capable of writing competent post-punk, as they mature hopefully they’ll develop a more distinct sound.
With timings out the window, the next catch of the day was W. H. Lung in the main room. Riding over from Manchester, the group are a month into touring their debut LP ‘Incidental’. Drenched in drum machines and synthesisers, they manage to blend the driven sound of groups like LCD Soundsystem with the more ethereal like DIIV. Another real discovery of the festival. Now for the big guns. Viagra Boys kicked off the degenerate double bill in the main room. The Swedes have been making a real fuss in the international post-punk scene with the release of ‘Street Worms’, their debut LP, last year. A pounding rhythm section brought a surprisingly dancey vibe to the main room, interrupted by violent bursts of saxophone and synth. Singer Sebastian Murphy, a tattoo artist by day, quickly shed his clothes and descended into performed anarchy (I’ve never seen a man crack open Smirnoff on stage let’s say that).
The Brudenell crowd was fully enthralled with the Scandy punks, and hungry for more with the dawn of Fat White Family’s set. Third album ‘Serfs Up’, released on Domino Records, seems to really have gifted the ever-rotating band a new lease of life given the multiple points when it seemed the group was about to crumble. The main room now definitely over-capacity, the seven men, headed up by a nearly-shaven headed Saul, dragged a crowd already teetering on the edge of chaos all the way down. Although a few expected songs from the new album were absent, regardless they exhibited a real tour-de-force, and showed why they have now headlined the festival twice in five years.
Wordsmith: Leo Joslin. Picture Witch: Iona Skye Wood