It seems like we are struggling to get one day of summer this year never mind Zooey Deschanel and her 500 days of it. Thankfully though for our sun deprived skin, King Tuts has been kind enough to put on a whole load of exciting gigs under the mantle of “King Tuts Summer Nights”. So even though our days might be pretty dull, at least our summer nights have the potential to be filled with some of the brightest bands the current Scottish music scene has to offer.
This was certainly the case last Friday night as I went along to a bustling Tuts to see a Glasgow band who have been garnering quite a bit of attention of late. Their fresh, raw and powerful sound was harnessed and honed in the studio with the help of producer Kevin Burleigh who has previously worked with among others “Glasvegas” (whose lead singer James Allan also happened to be in the crowd tonight). Since releasing their self titled four-song Burleigh produced EP in April, “Holy Esque” have been quick to build upon their already blossoming reputation with a number of incendiary live performances not only in Scotland’s second city but also around the UK.
The four-piece who are lead by the distinctive throaty rolling rasp of Pat Hynes took to the stage just after 11pm and played a half hour seven-song set that was bursting with vibrant energy. Kicking things off with “Tear” which is to be released as a free download single on the 7th of August, they soon hit full stride after a slight 20 second fuck-up by the man behind the sound desk on Pat’s vocal level having it way too low. The band then proceeded to smash their way through a further four songs which didn’t feature on their eponymous debut, showcasing just how far they must be into the process of recording that eagerly awaited full length.
Live “Holy Esque” are a very self assured prospect, they can play and they know they can play. Duelling guitars and pounding drums give rise to atmospheric swells that perfectly surround Hynes’ unusual vocal. Their enthusiasm for their new songs on stage was infectious and the crowd eagerly cheered and applauded the new numbers as if they were recognised old favourites (well I say old but the band have only been in existence for a year or so).
In fact it wasn’t until the penultimate track of the set that we heard a song from their debut EP. “Rose” saw keyboardist Keir Reid and singer Pat Hynes switch places and instruments and kicked off with a soaring riff reminiscent of the brilliance of “The Decline of…” era “British Sea Power”. Set closer “Ladybird Love” then sparked into life with the clattering drumming of Ralph McClure, and sounded driving and euphoric. Again there were slight similarities with BSP, but BSP if they had been stuck in a blender with “Clap Your Hands Say Yeah” and “We Are Augustines” and smoked 1000 cigarettes. The last chord was struck and the band left the stage triumphantly to a typically appreciative and raucous racket from the Tuts crowd.
There is no escaping the fact that “Holy Esque” are a band that’s going to polarise opinion, some people just won’t be able to look past the vocals. Personally I really love the unique timber in Hynes’ delivery, there’s something urgent about it, something visceral and primal that for me makes the band sound instantly recognisable. I was at another gig this weekend however and happened to hear someone else talking about “Holy Esque” who said “the singer sounds like he’s baaaaing”; while his friend replied saying Hynes’ voice was his favourite thing about the band.
They may well divide opinion, but for me on this performance and the strength of their songs, once more battles have been fought to bigger crowds than tonight I’m certain they will ultimately divide and conquer.
You can listen to Holy Esque’s brilliant debut EP here
The band have also been hand-picked to support The Raveonettes on their November/December European tour
28TH BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB, LEEDS
29TH THE QUEENS SOCIAL CLUB, SHEFFIELD
30TH ORAN MOR, GLASGOW
1ST SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER
2ND BIRMINGHAM HMV INSTITUTE, BIRMINGHAM
3RD VILLAGE UNDERGROUND, LONDON
4TH THE FLEECE, BRISTOL
5TH ERIC’S, LIVERPOOL
7TH TRABENDO, PARIS
8TH DEPOT, LEUVEN
9TH TIVOLI DE HELLING, UTRECHT
11TH THE ATOMIC CAFE, MUNICH
12TH BI NUU, BERLIN
13TH GEBAUDE 9, COLOGNE
14TH AM MAIN , FRANKFURT
Tickets for the Oran Mor gig can be found here