The bustling back room awaits on tenterhooks. For tonight is the final Hidden Herd vs Lost in the Manor show of the year and deep in the capital’s north, The Finsbury is packed to the brim in anticipation of an exciting four-strong lineup topped by Middle Eastern psych-rockers SHEIKH.
First to set hearts racing are South London five-piece yawwn, who let fly with a dizzying assault of psych-tinged indie-pop, which makes for a scintillating start. Off-kilter hooks are the newcomers’ forte during a stellar half-hour set, with the magnificent ‘Mercy’ and highlight ‘Partisan’ both proving to be groovy hook-loaded gems that feel vaguely reminiscent of The Rapture.
Towing a similar line, North London quartet Private Life grab the baton and take The Finsbury on a magical retro voyage of synth-spangled electro-pop. Artfully dishevelled frontman Gus Cox is quietly magnetic at the fore leading the wondrous ‘Float’, recalling James Murphy if LCD Soundsystem set to work on soundtracking a curiosity-piquing story development in Stranger Things.
Equally evocative are Middlesbrough’s Llovers with their kaleidoscopic array of guitar-pop future hits that channel the spirit of Peace and Swim Deep. Each of the Teesside foursome’s singles to date is a room-illuminating technicolour blast that elicits the hazy dog days of summer, with the band flitting between punchy (‘Feeling Sound’), dreamy (‘I Don’t Mind’) and atmospheric (‘Borderlands’). Undeniably infectious throughout, 2018 is Llovers’ for the taking.
Basking in the afterglow, headliners SHEIKH also transport The Finsbury to warmer climes, performing to a huge swell of fans as the clock hurtles towards midnight. The Bahrain-born London-based five-piece have the rippling mass in the palm of their hands from the get-go, with early single ‘Fonda’ and its B-side ‘I Could Be Yours’ flaunting their dazzling knack for sun-dappled guitar hooks and hip-shifting grooves. Latest release ‘Fortune’ is the best of their eclectic fusion in the flesh, combining elements of hip-hop, arena rock and synth-pop beneath a woozy psychedelic veneer. With a superb cameo from hotly-tipped rapper J’R’ Josephs thrown in for good measure, SHEIKH’s bill-topping set has everything; the mark of a unique band with bigger things firmly in their sights.