Since supporting tour heavy weights like, The Maccabees, Wolf Alice and Dry The River, to name a few, it was high time that Gengahr set out on the road to headline their own. With their debut album ‘A Dream Outside’ and new EP ‘Tired Eyes’ under their belts, Gengahr’s set at Birmingham’s Hare and Hounds (an iconic venue for hosting the best new artists), was already setting up to be quite the delight.
Taking to the small stage first were Pumarosa [rating: 2.5] , all airy vocals and experimental trance rock. The appearance of a sax and the occasional added moment where a drum stick was used to play the guitar provided the set with an unconventional and exciting element, even if the front woman’s dancing did occasionally feel a little awkward to watch.
Cash + David [rating: 2.5] provided a less dreamscape vibe. Whilst their set was less intense and interesting to watch, the music engaged the crowd more and upped the energy levels, even if the band themselves lacked interaction with their audience. The blend of electronic under Liz Lawrence’s strong and booming vocal bounded through the room a great setting for the singer’s first ‘home’ gig in a while.
The venue had filled out by the time that headliners Gengahr [rating: 5] strode through the crowd and up onto the stage. With a crowd that had a surprising age range, varying from groups of teens to, older men who had come alone, there was still maintained a continuous rumbling of eagerness across the room. Opening with ‘Loki’ taken from the new EP ‘Tired Eyes’, an odd choice in comparison to its more known peers, it nevertheless urged a further sense of excitement within the crowd. Flowing through a whimsical set of pretty much all their most loved and recognised tracks, the band seemed more than at ease and comfortable in and amongst the lights and the smoke upon the stage. With the occasional word from front man Felix Bushe, it’s obvious that the band don’t give too much away. However, with Bushe’s gentle grin and his easy chat, its clear why they appear so adored and why their shows seem so intimate.
The crowd wasn’t rowdy or particularly over energetic, but they were engaged and absorbed in the enthusiasm of the band. After new single ‘Tired Eyes’ was played, what appeared to be their number one fan at the gig, a man who you maybe wouldn’t typically envision as the ultimate Gengahr fan, called out ‘straight to number one with that one lads’, as well as later interjecting with the statement ‘best band at Reading Festival’, a statement that by the end of the show wouldn’t be too hard to believe.
Guitarist John Victor exhibited enough vigour to fill the whole venue alone, even though it wasn’t needed as the crowd began to move from a gentle sway to a full bodied dance. Album track ‘Embers’ gained an unexpected level of love, whilst older but still popular track, ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’ also appeared a favourite. Leaving the stage and walking through the crowd after the heavier tones of debut single, ‘Powder’, fans appeared somewhat angry, with some big tracks being left unplayed. As a venue, it isn’t one where encores typically happen (what with the band having to walk out through the audience themselves), due to this crowd members fizzled out of the venue, with a little disappointment at perhaps their most recognised song not having been played. Clearly the band weren’t aware of this and this resulted in them rushing back on despite the crowd having halved in size. Kicking back in with the final track from the LP ‘Lonely As A Shark’ followed by the long awaited and overly celebrated, fan-favourite ‘She’s A Witch’, the band seemed to have surpassed many expectations and ideas of them being a ‘record band’ as opposed to live performers.
It was shocking to comprehend that this was Gengahr’s first headline tour, and from the passion and the hype surrounding the band after the night, it was clear that it certainly wouldn’t be their last and that this was just an obvious marker in the rise and development of the quartet.