It’s one of the hottest days of the year, but in Sticky Mike’s rayless basement there’s something equally sizzling: a solid gold lineup of giddy art-rock. Tonight, the doors swing open for Brighton show number three – Hidden Herd Presents: Artificial Pleasure – and it shapes up to be an evening of killer grooves and meteoric hooks.
Kicking off proceedings, Playing House bring the sunshine underground with their magnificently moreish guitar-pop singles and a slew of newies. Despite some technical issues, the East London trio are as rousing as ever, with gems from their first two EPs ‘Jocelyn’ and ‘New Haircut’ sounding just as affecting when stripped back to their nuts and bolts. Finale ‘Jelly Legs’ is the best of them – a fine example of the band’s enviable songwriting prowess and singer Mel Patman’s powerhouse vocals.
Brighton-based four-piece Youth Sector follow, ratcheting up the volume with a string of supercharged rock nuggets. Like a tightly-wound fusion of Franz, QOTSA and The Hives, their vim-filled set hurtles along at breakneck pace, peppered with the strutting (‘Dig It and Repeat’), the scintillating (‘No Adventure’) and the sublime (‘Strange’). Each one is a welcome onslaught; a hammerblow of licks, cymbals and bruising basslines from the first note to the last. As they emphatically close with one final blast, it’s clear their rip-roaring noise befits venues oodles bigger than this one.
Then it’s over to Artificial Pleasure to close the night, and they do so in impeccable fashion – with a cocktail of glittered punk-funk riffs, hip-shaking rhythms and vein-popping intensity. The Londoners ooze pizzazz from the off, jolting through vibrant alt-hits from their exceptional era-hopping debut album ‘The Bitter End’, with frontman Phil McDonnell’s effervescent presence lifting the record’s widescreen sound to stratospheric dimensions.
There are expansive highlights aplenty: ‘Wound up Tight’ gives off an evocative 80s glow, ‘On a Saturday Night’ overspills with glam-tinged swagger à la T.Rex and ‘I’ll Make It Worth Your While’ brims with Bowie-meets-Orange Juice flair. Electrifying throughout, surely the band’s first full-length release will be the catalyst for Artificial Pleasure fever?