Day Three -
Black Country
New Road

Words by Cal Cashin and Harley Cassidy
Photography by Sharon Lopez and Chazz Adnitt

On an annual basis, Fred Perry’s ‘All Our Tomorrows’ is insistent on delivering the absolute pinnacle of cutting-edge, radical, new music to London’s music connoisseurs. Last year’s all-dayer was a rousing success, showcasing the likes of Black Midi, Jockstrap and Kojaque and it seems 2019 is no stranger to mass talent either. We’re talking enough talent to fill three days in the iconic 100 Club. Outside, it’s a sweltering Saturday in September but the world’s oldest independent venue heaves with the bodies of ravenous music fans as it holds the key to a progressive, exciting taste of the future.

As the early ticket-holders trickle in, there’s one thing that is easy to discern about opener Brother May; he is an artist that operates solely from the heart. As a founding member of Curl, a record label, community, and collective formed by May, Coby Sey, and Mica Levi, there’s a largely experimental underbelly to his work. Conceptual sounds and an earnest rap flow capture a sincere and radiant presence on stage as he performs cuts off his debut album, Aura Type Orange. His positivity is like a shot of ginger for the hungover residents as he prowls from corner to corner, armed with a rap diction that gives energy and humility in abundance.

Lealani claims to be an ‘alien from a fantastic planet’, which sounds about right. She’s actually from Pomona, LA, but that’s irrelevant because her talent is extra-terrestrial. She embodies youth and spirit in a way that is incredibly endearing and somewhat innocent, performing with a wild abandon whilst her excellent track ‘Floating’ hovers like a UFO over the room. It’s super exciting to think of the body of work that lies ahead of her at such a young age.

Next up, Taylor Skye: an artist always seemingly expanding his horizons and his set is animated and monitored by a consistently compelling slew of songs. As one half of Jockstrap, he has seemingly negotiated some of the more interesting and experimental turns from the London music scene in the past year. He doesn’t move for much of the twenty minutes he is on stage and through bluesy rushes of heaving synths and patches of glitchy syncopation, there’s a brooding atmosphere that belies his entire presence, balancing the line between organic and synthetic, tender and robotic.

Hidden behind a smoky wall of lilting jazz melodies, Osquello takes to the stage. In a similar vein to Brother May, the London born rapper sheds generosity, picking apart tales of lovelorn loss and everyday inequity with unassuming ease. His rap flow is laid back and languid, running a gamut from the cool accessibility of Loyle Carner to the inventive textures of Archy Marshall. There’s no question that he’s an artist on the ascent.

Hannah Hayden’s DIY synth-pop outfit Platonica Erotica take to the stage next. Hayden is a New Jersey native, but armed with her wistful, powerful tunes and a razor-sharp backing band she has found a real home at the dank venues of London. Tonight is no exception to the rule. For 20 minutes, she invites the venue into her world of technicolour pop daydreams, exorcising melancholic hilarity via a humming children’s Casio keyboard on debut single ‘Wasted’. It’s bright, hypnagogic and occasionally sassy bedroom pop, that saunters from place to place in the most colourful of fashions.

When Great Dad arrive on stage, it is under rather dizzying terms. Their debut record, released in May, is a warped, sometimes sublime, sometimes outlandish, chopped up reflection on existing as a trans person in the digital age. It’s a curious listen that can’t really be diluted down and when it’s performed live, it takes on an entirely different-headed beast. Blood Dirt, perhaps the most cohesive track on the record, is red raw and undercooked, dripping with fervency. Everything feels ten times heavier, ten times more vital and ten times more exciting and the crowd feel that, too. Many of the 100 Club’s inhabitants are lost in thrall to the sparse, oddball electronics the band emanate. Instruments appear almost as a token of goodwill; a flute appeared out of nowhere at one point and there was mass applause. Charlie Loane’s native Irish accent occasionally becomes prominent, especially when he’s sounding at his most vulnerable or passionate, making their tracks sound like a warped call to arms. They cut an intoxicating presence, writhing, flailing and generally moving in a way that doesn’t bind them to the notion of any one emotion. It’s genuinely fucking excellent to watch.

Delivering a set of cast iron oddities, Jerskin Fendrix; ragged and moribund, cuts an intimidating figure on the 100 Club stage. Last year saw the London pop oddball open All Our Tomorrows to a scandalously lethargic group of 2pm risers; this year, we see him play a much darker set to a compelled sold out crowd. Throughout the first part of his set, he moodily makes his way through Nine Inch Nails-style industrial compositions, brooding and foreboding with their cold and contorted textures. However, as the set reaches its end, Fendrix leaps emphatically out of the dark; his voice cracks atop the eurodance climax of ‘Swamp’, before he bounds into a final couple of tunes that are regular earworms of Windmill inhabitants.

Danish no wave scoundrels Pardans are the penultimate act; and if All Our Tomorrows really are like this band’s set then we have a lot to look forward to. The five piece’s focal point is the rusty, squeaky saxophone of Daniel Honore, every time he heaves into it the earth seems to shake. The band thunder through a crazed set, every song more raucous than the last; they combine the mutant disco of James Chance and the Contortions with the amphetamine scronk of the Stooges in spectacular fashion. The lead singer Gustav Berntsen is a point of fascination too; he begins as a slightly awkward punk frontman, but confrontationally grows into the set; at its pinnacle, he wraps a section of the audience up in his microphones cable, as he marauds through the audience.

The night’s swansongs come from London-via-Cambridge lot Black Country, New Road. Part of their immense appeal has always been that the combo feel like a village community brass band suddenly possessed by satan; their trade is evil sax and violin breakdowns, an exercise they routinely perform in oversized knitted sweaters. The band’s many members jostle through a packed crowd and pick up their instruments – a transition that sees them instantly go from an affable bunch of youths to a London equivalent to The Village of The Damned kids.

They open with an extraordinarily intense number, that pivots instantly from insane virtuoso sax meltdowns to sauntering grotty fanfare – sax player Lewis Evans showcases an unreal versatility and a peculiar charisma as he makes these all-powerful exorcisms. It’s a relentless track that sees frontman Isaac Wood cock his head back slightly and murmur “I guess I’m a little late to the party” when the music is at its most feral.

The set’s highlight comes from their latest single ‘Sunglasses’, which the band flash through towards the end of their set. It begins with a fumbling American Football guitar intro, laying the groundwork for Wood’s cold and non-judgmental spoken word observations about a life of privilege. As Evans’ sax and Georgia Ellery’s violin takes you away melodiously, before Wood cries: “and things just aren’t built like they used to be – the absolute pinnacle of British engineering.” The latter part of Sunglasses is the highlight of the band’s set, the animalist yelps come atop terse Sabbath riffs and maddening strings motifs. “I’m more than adequate/leave my daddy’s job out of this,” Wood howls, before the track collapses in the frenzied chaos that this band do so well.

Black Country, New Road are one of Britain’s most exciting bands, their ability to combine the neuroses of Slint and American Football, the dynamic powerhousery of Swans and Godspeed! and the biting semi-spoken word observations of TV Personalities, gives them an immensely fresh and enthralling sound. Indeed, like Squid on Thursday night and Black Midi last year, they make being able to actually play your instruments to a high caliber cool. Sometimes it’s easy to be down on the way of the world and the art contained within it, but if the future is as dazzlingly exciting as it seems when Black Country, New Road are on the stage, then perhaps it's worth waiting around for.