Live Review: Hindsights, Prawn, Brightr & Kid Brother – Bowery District, Reading – 25/06/2015

It’s hotter and stickier than Satan’s jockstrap in Reading’s The Bowery District. Berkshire punks are out in force to send off local heroes Hindsights as they head to first Europe and then around the UK with US emo heroes Prawn and Brighton troubadour Brightr.

First up though are noisy Isle of Man/London post-hardcore quartet Kid Brother (2.5/5). They’ve only got a handful of shows under their belt, but there’s a fearlessness about how they attack the stage that makes them an interesting, if not quite compelling watch. There’s also a touch of naivety too, including a bizarre run back stage (which, due to the set up at The Bowery District, is through the crowd) to get some water. Their stagecraft too could do with some work, feeling a touch too self-conscious and contrived. That said, they’ve got a strong sound, and a couple of killer tunes – ‘Douse’ and ‘Lacklustre Life’ in particular point at talent.

Talking of talent, Brightr (5/5) (aka, a very beardy, heavily tattooed and softly spoken Laurie) is utterly captivating. If you’re planning on going to any of the subsequent shows on the tour, I cannot stress this enough – GET THERE EARLY. Sadly, as is the norm when faced with watching one chap with an acoustic guitar, some folk deem themselves more important, talking loudly throughout. It’s a real bugbear of mine – but more fool them, as Brightr could just be our very own answer to Owen or Into It. Over It. His guitarwork is frequently astonishing, recalling the mathy Kinsella-style of noodling. But he combines this with huge hooks and big choruses and he’s got a bloody fantastic set of pipes. The Hindsights boys are certainly enamoured – they head down the front and provide impromptu backing vocals on the killer ‘We’. Brilliant stuff.

Prawn (4/5) are happy to play second fiddle to hometown heroes Hindsights on this ‘warm up’ show but, they’re not treating it as an opportunity to phone it in. In fact, compared to the complex rhythms and soaring melodies they conjure on record, they’re ferocious and unbelievably loud. Drawing largely from last year’s excellent ‘Kingfisher’ they tear through an energetic set, despite a somewhat muted response from the Reading masses, perhaps somewhat shocked at how much more drive there is about them live than on record. That said, ‘Scud Running’ and ‘First as Tragedy, Second as Farce’ are both greeted warmly, while a brilliantly punchy rendition of ‘Thalassa’ sparks a huge sing-along and plenty of finger pointing when Tony Clark spits out “I’m glad you found clarity in ambiguity”. Having been in the country barely 24 hours, the show perhaps served its purpose, insomuch as it provides Prawn some stage time ahead of the tour, but I’ll certainly be aiming to catch them on one of their headline shows proper.

In, ahem, hindsight, getting the Berkshire boys to headline was definitely a good move, as it’s clear they’re something of a big draw, considering how infrequently they play Reading (or Maidenhead). It’s probably about 12 months since they last hit the stage at The Bowery District, but since then, with ‘Cold Walls/Cloudy Eyes’ they’ve delivered one of the UK underground’s strongest albums of the year. Added to near relentless touring, it means Hindsights (4.5/5) are now a formidable live act. Whereas 12 months ago, they were chaotic and fun, tonight they’re focussed and well, enormously fun. After a low-key start with ‘Everything Inside Me Echoed’, vocalist Benio Baumgart invites everyone to “jump on your friends’ heads” as they rip into ‘Cold Walls’. Pandemonium doesn’t quite do it justice, as people tumble, somersault and fly through the air. Like Prawn, they draw heavily off their most recent full-length, with the likes of ‘Pensive’ coming across incredibly well. They also delve further back, including giving airings to a number of songs from 2013’s ‘The Thoughts That Weigh Me Down’, much to the delight of the die-hards, many of whom would have been there at the band’s embryonic beginnings. Naturally, these up the levels of chaos, especially during the brilliant ‘Grey’. In fact, their set is near faultless, and you can see their hard work over the last 18 months has really paid off.

As we make our way out into the heady, humid Reading night, I declare my interest in seeing all three acts on another leg of the tour. My girlfriend remarks it might just have been the best show we’ve seen in Reading – and we’ve lived here seven years. I’ve spent the last three days trying to think of a better one and I’m pretty much stumped.


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