20th April | Louisiana
It was Easter weekend and the sun was beaming; the city was full of day drinkers, radiating a Harbourfest vibe. I made my way to The Louisiana and the benches outside were filled with boozy punters ready to get a glimpse at Oliver Wilde’s latest project. In the countless times I’ve been to the Loui, this was the first time I’d ever seen a queue forming up the stairs. These were some keen gig-goers.
Lo-fi grunge rockers, wych elm all clambered on stage, taking their places. Singer and guitarist, Caitlin Elliman donned a cowboy hat which read ‘Espagne’. Sadly, no songs were sung in Spanish. Their set was doused in broody shoegaze influences, and verging on grunge at times, however it did become a little predictable. There was very little interaction with the crowd and when tuning for songs Caitlin faced away from the crowd, which made for a rather awkward environment. If you’re a fan of Swimming Girls or Pale Waves, check these guys out. I only hope that they loosen up a bit more.
Considering Pet Shimmers have performed very few times, they still managed to sell out The Louisiana, I guess curiosity got the better of us. To the left of the stage was a prop reel-to-reel and at the centre of the stage there was an old-school TV, which showed footage of Oliver Wilde, giving the stage a vintage vibe. The six-piece all took their places on stage and at first I was rather sceptical about a band which had three guitarists (not including a bassist), however Pet Shimmers quickly demonstrated the importance of each member. All provided flavoursome riffs and rhythmic colour to the mix.
“Good evening, we’re from Los Angeles, California,” Oliver jokingly announced in a faux American accent. “It’s really good to be here in Birmingham,” he then added with dry wit. Oliver’s woozy vocals and whimsical style of songwriting emitted a Syd Barrett vibe. The three-part harmonies elevated the performance to spine-tingling. ‘Mortal Sport Argonaut’ was a metallic cluster of synths and crashing drum beats. I was orbiting space at this point. Each member was flailing around on stage in time to the concoction they were brewing. It felt as though I was watching marionettes performing.
‘Emotions’ was a particularly great performance, a surfy, slow, swaying number which was reminiscent of an 80s love ballad. Along with the few songs Pet Shimmers have released, including one that’s about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, they also performed a tribute to the late indie band, Her’s. Oro Swimming Hour (another one of Oliver’s projects) had supported them at Crofters Rights a few years back:
“This one is for my boys in Her’s,” – it was a tale of two halves, a tender ode which featured such lyrics as “when you come back to life, bring me something nice.” The latter half was a swirling beast of jangly guitars. Both guitarists from wych elm then joined on stage which then made a total of five guitars! Overkill? Not quite. Loud? Absolutely. This then resulted in a twisted five-minute outro, which was like a white-knuckle ride.
Pet Shimmers are going to be the hottest ticket in town. Their sell-out show speaks volumes.
See the video for ‘Persona Party’ here: