15th May | Exchange

After all the blazing sunshine, walking into the live room at the Exchange on Tuesday evening was like blindly feeling your way into a damp little cliff-side cove after hours of swimming in dazzling afternoon sun. But once you were in and your eyes had adjusted to the half-light, you began to count the treasures that floated before you: a webbing of fluorescent lighting spun across the depths of the stage, ‘Beverly Shrills’ twisted out in looping LED wires on the back of the synth table, and a kick-drum sporting ‘Cousin Kula’ rested centre-stage, beckoning towards the slowly-shuffling room.

Though Beverly Shrills began before anyone was really willing to give up milling about in the last few rays of sunshine, ‘Eleanor’ rang across the room and anyone who was still hesitant over their decision to come inside quietly drowned their doubts in an ice-cold, dewy beer. “We’re big Cousin Kula fans – you guys are sick,” Beverly Shrills toasted. “That’s why we bought all of these synths.” The six-piece power-pop crew captured the feel of the mellow evening with early-noughties indie meets Empire of the Sun; an interesting blend of styles captured in the peppy, upbeat lyrics and lashings of colourful, psych-pop instrumentals.

I had the pleasure of catching second support, Dirty Nice, at the Louisiana’s Birthday Party towards the end of last year, and was distinctly blown away by their assuredly furtive performance. A glitchy blend of R&B and mariachi, ‘Edit’ ensnared the sun-drunk crowd back into the dark belly of the Exchange. Alas, one song and an abrupt finish later, they were off and being rather inclined towards their careless mastery of this unique style, I was a little disappointed that their set was so short. Still, good things come in small packages and we still had Cousin Kula yet to come.

From the first riff, you were blown away by just how tight Cousin Kula are; they’ve been in the game for quite some time, and it really came through in musical finesse and zealous currents of followers: “We’ve been doing this tour for a while now and it’s so sick to be doing the homecoming show, to see so many of our friends,” said James Vine, drummer. They played a generous repertoire of old and new including the track, ‘Stacked’ – with a touch of the Gabriel GarzónMontano in the to-and-fro of harmonious funk, pop and jazz undertones – frontman, Elliot Ellison’s intoxicating vocals washing over the top.

‘Get it Off Your Chest’ was psych-pop at its absolute best: bursts of sax blared through thick, warping knots of guitar. There were nods to Zeppelin with Jordan’s screeching, slamming,  guitar solos – and then we would all relax again, carried away on a wave of smooth sax and shimmering melodiesAnother upcoming release, ‘Mimo,’ provided haunting No Ceremony-esque vocal harmonies, before descending into a super-static mass of climbing guitar and wailing synth, and as the evening drew to a close, Douglas Cave’s crooning sax solo ushered us into the night where the journey ended … for some.