On another blisteringly hot Friday, Sticky Mike’s dimly-lit downstairs once again plays host to an electrifying showcase of ear-pricking new music. Tonight, it’s Brighton show number four – Hidden Herd Presents: Valeras – which shapes up to be a show jam-packed with melodic psych lilts and exuberant guitar hooks.
Blushes are certainly au fait with the latter, whooshing through an effervescent assortment of RnB, indie-rock and dream-pop during their short but sweet stint. Some of the country’s most esteemed tastemakers have revered the Aylesbury four-piece and it is little wonder on tonight’s showing; absurdly catchy tunes like ‘Honey’ and ‘Not a Chance’ show off a no-holds-barred brilliance that should angle them towards the indie-pop summit. And rightly so.
More restrained, but still utterly magnetic, Brighton’s Heirloom conjure a magical and deeply evocative atmosphere as piercing purple light floods the stage. The gloom-tinged garage-poppers are a bewitching sonic experience, with ghost train organs and fuzz-bathed riffs providing the perfect brooding backdrop for the band’s distinctive dual vocals. First single ‘Femme’ is where the combination shines most brightly, with the juxtaposition of Sam Rivers’ rumbling baritone and Jade Taaffe’s soaring alto tingling the spine.
Shifting gear, Vinyl Staircase let loose with a psych-addled rock ‘n’ roll explosion, the energy barely letting up throughout. The Dorking quartet – who have supported the likes of Wolf Alice, Sunflower Bean, Blossoms and Swim Deep – are master crafters of sun-baked nuggets and in excellent finale ‘Last I Heard’ they have an early contender for Hidden Herd‘s Tracks of the Year. But their dazzling output is even more astounding live; frontman Michael Thorpe is their sparkle-clad focal point, voyaging through wailing licks and blissed-out solos at every opportunity.
Like the trio of bands that precede them, five-strong headliners Valeras impress from their set’s opening sparks to its dying embers. The Reading alt-rockers’ riffs are pinprick sharp, the drums ground-shakingly oomphy and Rose Yagmur’s voice is a tour de force, careering over the top of each and every thunderous concoction. There are highlights aplenty, but recent singles ‘Louder’ and ‘Painkiller’ take the prize with towering choruses that envelope the bustling Sticky Mike’s basement. If anyone still remained on the fence, finale ‘Colour Me’ is an emphatic curtain call, closing with a torrent of guitar wizardry and crashing cymbals. It’s the sort of scintillating moment that signals Valeras are primed to go the distance.
Join us for our next Brighton show, Hidden Herd Festival 2018 – featuring The Ninth Wave, HAUS, Courts, Atlas Wynd, Hot Dreams, Beachtape, Drip Gloss, Yawwn, The Villas and more – on Saturday 1st September at Green Door Store. Tickets available via DICE.