HOLY BOUNCER / RISORIUS / HALFBLIND / PASTEL, 24TH JANUARY 2018, CARDIFF GWDIHW
The band name Pastel put one in mind of fey Glaswegian tweepoppers The Pastels, and of delicate, subtle tints, rather than big, bold colours. It doesn't put one in mind of boorish, smirking Britpop that worships at the altar of Definitely Maybe and Happy Mondays. The final song is a token gesture in the direction of sensitivity and depth, a bedraggled bunch of garage forecourt flowers proffered optimistically by a swaying, Stella'd-up oaf. We should, I suppose, be thankful for the small mercy that Kasabian's egregious influence hasn't yet filtered through.
Swansea outfit HalfBlind are only marginally better, largely on account of the fact that their parents' record collections (what a quaint concept) seem to be more diverse, incorporating 60s power pop, The Coral and early Talking Heads. Not that they make particularly effective use of any of those resources, mind.
Meanwhile, the Shins cover that makes an appearance four songs into Risorius' set gives us a much-needed clue as to what they've been aiming at (and missing by some distance) with the previous three. The second even comes perilously close (i.e. within a 500-mile radius) to Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Californication'. They do, however, have the commendable nerve to take on the hubbub of general disinterest with a quieter song that briefly quells the chatter and suggests that the keyboard player isn't redundant after all.
Which leaves me clinging to the faint hope that Holy Bouncer might be able to salvage the evening - a possibility that seems even more remote when it transpires that a treasured effects pedal has been pinched. But, against the odds, salvage the evening the Barcelona-based headliners do.
You would assume that years of Primavera festivals would have rubbed off on the locals, and certainly Holy Bouncer's members boast the high-waisted trousers and moustaches that have practically become the uniform. But there is nothing remotely hipster about the bands they most frequently appropriate, to rejuvenating effect: The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Hearing the likes of 'Anticipation' and 'Hippie Girl Lover', Mojo Man would be inclined to feel approval rather than a sense of alienation, while anyone dismayed by Tame Impala's lapse from the psych-indie bliss of Lonerism into the glossy mediocrity of Currents would lap up 'Mightly Mad'.
The quintet's performance becomes a blur of high kicking, bongo bashing and muscly riffs. We're coaxed into crouching down for a drum solo and later asked to supply weed in exchange for an encore. For the first time this evening, we really do want more.
(An edited version of this review first appeared on the Buzz website.)