Gengahr’s return to the Hare & Hounds is a gloriously beautiful affair, Katie Leigh-Lancaster reviews
Returning to the Hare & Hounds for the first time since 2016’s ‘All Years Leaving’ festival, Gengahr’s comeback feels like something of a homecoming. Still basking in the success of their second album Where Wildness Grows, the band kicked off their headline tour in Newcastle earlier this month, paying Birmingham a much-coveted visit along the way.
The night’s support comes from indie fourpiece Indigo Husk, who replace Low Islands on the Birmingham, Newcastle and Southampton leg of the tour. Indigo Husk’s sunshine-soaked spin on garage rock oozes with unexpected optimism, particularly in track ‘Goes Around Comes Around’. The band, who make their own headline debut at the Hare & Hounds on 19th June, are endearingly breezy. Their infectious showmanship cuts through the lo-fi fuzz of their grungy guitar riffs, softening the edges of their angsty alt sound. “You’ve been beautiful, we’ve been mildly attractive” jokes frontman Joe Hamm before riling the crowd up for Gengahr’s set.
Opening with new track ‘Is This How You Love’, Gengahr’s entrance to the Hare & Hounds is a bold one. Driven by Hugh Schulte’s pulsing bassline, the track veers on funkier territory than the band’s illustrious dreampop sound. The repetitive hook of the chorus serves as ideal sing-along material, marking a bouncy start to an otherwise experimental set. The band oscillates between fan favourites from their debut album A Dream Outside and fresher material, each met with equal acclaim from the crowd. Early track ‘Embers’ feels particularly nostalgic among new tracks ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Mallory’. Its haziness nods to the glorious aimlessness of Gengahr’s early sound: a quirk which the band have polished and refined within their Where Wildness Grows era tracks. Throughout the gig, Gengahr nail the pacing of tracks, following upbeat indie anthems with more delicate, slow-paced material.
‘Dark Star’, an instrumental from their debut album, plays on the band’s mastery of all things dreamlike. Flaunting John Victor’s reverberating guitar, the track’s intricately tangled melodies capture Gengahr’s more psychedelic side. While ‘Dark Star’ stuns the audience into awestruck silence, clean-cut anthems ‘She’s A Witch’ and ‘Fill My Gums with Blood’ are met with sing-along acclaim. It is in Gengahr’s final track of the night, lead single ‘Carrion’, that the crowd erupts into a frenzy. Felix Bushe’s whispered vocals linger above the smog of John’s richly textured riffs, feeling timid and ferocious all at once. The track’s elegant disarray of sounds borders on the hypnotic, as if the room and everything within it have been engulfed within the haze of a dream.
Gengahr’s mastery is capturing the magic and mysticism of dreampop on stage. From the sleepy riffs of A Dream Outside to the polished anthems of Where Wildness Grows, the band continue to push the boundaries of indie to glorious avail.
Gengahr’s second album, ‘Where Wildness Grows’ is available to stream now.