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SUBCULTURE LIVE

All Our Tomorrows Presents: PVA

Words by Sean Griffiths
Photos by @shotbymelissa_ and @jessicaelizaross

Following a period of time when many of the UK’s grassroots music venues’ existence has been under serious threat, there was a genuine sense of elation and relief to be back inside London’s 100 Club for the 2021 edition of All Our Tomorrows. The walls of the venue simply bleed music history and there’s always a sense that you might be about to see something very special - one of those ‘I was there moments’ that you’ll be still talking about years down the line.

Following an opening night headlined by raucous Belfast band Enola Gay and a second focusing on the alt r’n’b of Nayana Iz and RADA, the third and final night of All Our Tomorrows leaned a little more towards the electronic end of the spectrum.

First up, London via Stroud outfit The Umlauts opened proceedings with the four-piece swelling to an 18-legged beast for the live show. Citing everyone from The Knife to The Fall as major influences, the extended ensemble resembled previous All Our Tomorrows alumni Black Country New Road in terms of the sheer number of ingredients being added to the pot. But there was no sense of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Their taut, pulsating and tangential take on indie electro had the audience transfixed as the outfit slowly built up layer after layer of sound, while their dual lead singers Maria and Annabelle, gelled everything together with chant-like singing in German.

Umlauts

London experimental hip hop vocalist Chloe Anna, AKA POiSON ANNA, has already collaborated with Dean Blunt and A$AP Rocky, so it’s no surprise the venue was near capacity by the time she entered the stage. With a hushed and sedated vocal delivery, laid over a bed of broken beats and ambient soundscapes, her delivery is reminiscent of former Tricky muse Martina Topley-Bird. While the partnered choreographed dancing later in the show will no doubt earn her comparisons with FKA Twigs. But with a quiet charisma that’s capable of holding an entire room with a whisper, hers is a name we’re undoubtedly going to hear lots more of in the very near future. And if her captivating live show leads more people to her brilliant debut mixtape ‘EXCELSiA’, released earlier this year, then we’re all for it.

POiSON ANNA
POiSON ANNA

London noise pop trio Paddywak take a much more direct (but no less powerful) approach to winning over the audience. With a wall of noise constructed from distorted strummed chords on the bass guitar, synths, keyboards and snarling and screeched vocal delivery from their dual vocalists, the trio’s set is a visceral thrill ride. With a lyric borrowed from an ad for a well-known chocolate bar (“you’re not you when you’re hungry”) and an intensive reworking of the Jefferson Airplane classic ‘White Rabbit’,  the trio who have previously opened up for Black Midi, sound a little like Grimes, if she was fronting riot grrrl icons Bikini Kill.

Paddy Wak

Belfast’s Neil Kerr, AKA Mount Palomar might be less obviously extroverted performer than some on the bill tonight, but his set of muscular, hardware-based techno makes a serious impression on the audience. His punk-edged electronica has already earned him comparisons with Giant Swan and he got booked to play the techno mecca Berghain in Berlin after just one live show. Palomar’s something of an outlier on a line-up largely consisting of electronic leaning bands, but he manages to take the energy in the room up several notches during his 30 minute set and leaves the audience at fever pitch for the night’s final act.

Mount Palomar

London three-piece PVA turned heads with their ‘Toner’ EP in 2020 and there’s definitely been a sense of anticipation for the return of their live show since. Live, they feel like a band trying on several different hats, with each of them fitting pretty damn well. Much of their output fits a slick new wave, post-punk mould with influences like Talking Heads and New Order fairly obvious. But at times they veer into the kind of tough, uncompromising electronica French producer Gessaffelstein specialises in. And by the show’s finale, keyboardist Josh Baxter has taken over lead vocal duties from Ella Harris and they almost start to resemble an early noughties metal band as he headbangs away at the very front of the stage. It might seem disparate, but somehow it all works and it all feels very PVA.

PVA
PVA

With live music absent for so long, the night’s a reminder of how important spaces like this up and down the country are. Here’s to many more nights in noisy, sweat-drenched basements.