24th March | Exchange
Photos: Mar Reyes
Saturday 24th March saw the third instalment of The Bristol GERM’s home-grown gigs. Having previously featured Bristol heavyweights, Scalping and IDLES, the bar had been set incredibly high for this show.
First on the eclectic bill was Kayla Painter, who exceeded expectations by every stretch of the imagination. Her apocalyptic sound, coupled with a 3D, psychedelic backdrop engulfed the Exchange and its occupants. There are no other words to describe the ambience of her set than other-worldly.
Kayla brought the Exchange to life with her dazzling light show and set the precedent for the rest of the evening. Kayla was so distinct in her musical composition, mixing primal animalistic sounds with heavy drone. Performing tracks from her most recent EP, Euriga, Kayla’s set, coupled with the audio-visuals, was imaginative, thoughtful and inspired. We truly felt transported into her narrative. Finishing her set with her new single, “In the Witch Elm,” she had provided a divine introduction to the evening.
Following on was MXLX, whose background in classic heavy metal has resulted in an experimental noise set like no other. MXLX’s energy and ferocity provided a captivating performance. His softly-spoken dry wit was a welcome contrast to the heavily-impressive guttural vocals he produces on stage. The set differentiated itself from Kayla’s, providing the same awe-inspiring sense of foreboding, but with a contrasting tone.
The heavy sounds, abruptly cut with jarring, harsh vocals made for an overwhelming performance. They resonated throughout the venue and could be heard far beyond the walls of the Exchange. The set was a welcome shock to the system, like being forced into an ice bath. One full of scorpions. It was experimental noise that violently ripped us from the dreamscape Kayla had painted and thrust us back into harsh reality.
Headlining was the infamous Oliver Wilde (now plus full band). The ethereal pop-rock provided yet another welcome contrast to the acts prior and the assortment of musical talent on stage was mesmerising to watch. Oliver Wilde provided dulcet tones over chirpy well-formulated alt rock. The members of his band donned a multitude of instruments, including a mandolin and viola, providing variety and flavour in the set.
Performing tracks from a mixture of his albums, the soft, well-composed riffs made for a fantastic finale to the evening. As a headline act, the momentum created and sustained by Oliver Wilde carried the evening. Having been dubbed as an inspiration, it’s easy to see why he has captivated so many. The set was thoughtfully-crafted, exciting and a delight to witness.
It’s important to note that despite the line-up being saturated with powerful artistic talent, each with their own agendas, genres and tones, that the evening was well-rounded. Each of the performances were unique experiences that complemented each other perfectly. This gig was a wonderful introduction to the home-grown talent that Bristol boasts.
Performances like these resonate more as art, statements unheard and unviewed until they are forced into our world. The Bristol GERM provided an eccentric platform for these artists to flourish without limitations. Truly a magnificent evening.