Holiday Ghosts | Live Review & Photoset

22nd February | Hy-Brasil

Photos: Rowan Allen

A seedy red hue is all that dimly illuminates the Holiday Ghosts as they casually commence their set at Hy-Brasil this evening. While it means it’s almost difficult to see them unless you’re front and centre, it’s actually befitting for their stripped-back and melodious sound. They have a stark simplicity that resonates much further than you’d expect for a band that thrive off the bare bones of their instruments. It’s because of the band’s musicianship that they prosper so avidly. They’re also a band that possess more than one accomplished songwriter and through their live set can demonstrate versatility with vitality.

Gork are easily one of Bristol’s most frivolous and fun bands. The five-piece, with four of the members forming a unique line at the front of the stage, storm through some unconstrained rock n roll that delivers some captivating choruses, as the group shout and spit the practically unintelligible lyrics with undeniable freedom. Sporting party hats and ribbing each other as they play on, the band demonstrate a far more rackety sound than their recordings, but this is in no way a bad thing;there is a melodious sentiment and energy remaining in their harmonic efforts, with which they could easily demolish a stage.

Having released their first self-titled full-length back in September, Holiday Ghosts have not held themselves back when it comes to writing new material. The set is a roaring mix of fresh and immediately infectious tracks, and evident fan favourites from their record. ‘In My Head’ stands out as their more big-hearted, free-spoken single, Katja Rackin’s lucid, intelligent lyrics coming across as strongly live as they do on record. The band rattles with gentle idiosyncrasy, Sam Stacpoole toying with the foundational melodies of the song as he effortlessly fools around through an undeniably absorbing solo. It follows two spritely songs that exude their vigour without posturing, the group comfortable in jiving and bouncing loosely, just as this increasingly fun-loving crowd does in return.

As aforementioned, what makes their music so enjoyable is the distinct balance they possess between all displaying their ability as musicians and the freedom they conjure as a group. Charlie Fairbairn takes the lead for the second track, a playful rhythm flowing through his writing as much as Stacpoole and Rackin’s. It gives the group the extra dynamic of having a third vocalist, all three sharing delightfully vibrant harmonies throughout the set, as Ry Cleave hurls one contagious bass line after the other.

While not in any rush to ensure the set retains a high energy, the group remain courteous and direct in their interactivity between songs, not in need of any empty gestures as they bust through song after song. Everyone benefits as it allows their music literally to do the talking. It’s even more gratifying, then, that their playing ability is second to none. The end product belies a simplicity in their sound with sharp hooks and Stacpoole’s effortless, bluesy guitar playing. They are deliberately uncomplicated and all the better for it.