August 17, 2022
Words by: Fran Pope
On a hot, humid evening mid-heatwave, Bristol’s Rough Trade was buzzing with friends and fans out in force for Hypothetics’ flexidisc launch party. It was an exciting line-up, with support from Quade and Bible Club. The atmosphere felt familiar and friendly – a lot of people knew one or more of the three bands and were keen to lend their support as well as discovering new music. Me included: I had seen Quade once before (review here), and Bible Club twice (reviews here and here), but Hypothetics were new for me and, having heard nothing but good things from gig-going friends, I was looking forward to hearing them for myself.
The first set of the night began in almost total darkness with nothing but deep blue lights behind the band, their faces in shadow. It was a suitably eery and subaquatic setting for the Bristol group whose particular brand of alternative, folk-skewered atmospherics is surely one of the most immersive out there.
Warped and sliding violin (played by Tom Connolly) set the mood. Interspersed with searing jabs and bars, it railed and wavered and brought to mind high wind in wires, electricity and earth. Meanwhile, the bass stepped – felted, ominous – under Barney Matthews’ spoken-word vocals, the effect full of gravity and suspense.
Brand new tracks sat alongside favourites Spiral I and II and The Balance; my favourite was final track Piles Copse, in which the drums (by Leo Fini) restlessly, impetuously burst out of their lines, smashing huge and angry before being swept back into hushed, tight control.
With the same blend of moody and pithy, solid and sublime that I remembered from last time, Quade once again captured an attentive crowd and drew us willingly down into the depths of their haunting music. And it’s a deep dive I’d highly recommend; despite the oppressive heat outside the venue, Quade filled the room with their signature strange, underground-river chills, shot through with piercing bolts of violin, and bleeding synth played by Matt Griffiths.
Talking to Bible Club’s vocalist Dan after the set, we agreed that what we really want is a fully immersive, five-hour Quade gig, perhaps in round, where we could tumble in even deeper and get thoroughly lost. In the meantime, this was a dreamlike half-hour.
If you haven’t seen Quade yet, just… do.
Bristol fourpiece Bible Club have been storming the gig circuit lately with shows at the Louisiana, The Thunderbolt and The Crown in Bristol, as well as the Harbourside Festival and Southampton’s The Joiners, to name just a few. Both times I’ve seen them previously they’ve been great, but they only seem to get sharper, more solid and more compelling.
Again, new material was spliced in with their more familiar tunes. I especially loved the “untitled” track towards the end, with the bassist on vocals (although, as always, switching instruments and roles is a Bible Club speciality); this was followed up by Postcard Envy – an urgent, heart-tugging outburst of a track – which I remember from before and is now a firm favourite.
Saxophonist Eva, joining the band onstage towards the end of the set, lent another deep layer to the guitar- and bass-driven offering.
Belting out alt-rock noise with an infectious, jumpy edge – something like a tightly coiled spring sludged in oozing reverb – Bible Club definitely couldn’t be accused of not giving their all. Sliding from slick, tightly controlled constructions to epic meltdowns of shredded gunk, all four members seem to throw themselves into the show, and it’s always fun, and loud, and cathartic.
Bible Club’s new single, Ford Capri, is set for release on September 2.
Follow them on Instagram for all the latest.
Celebrating the launch on flexidisc of their singles Newborn and Don’t Speak, Hypothetics drew a solid crowd. With their mix of thumping punk sensibility, bright indie riffs and funk-leaning basslines, tonight’s headliners ratcheted up the energy another level; where Quade started the night with contemplative poise, Hypothetics spun out in all directions, spiralling and cartwheeling through tempos and time signatures.
The Bristol band – Dan, George, Joe and Jim – formed not long before lockdown began and were picking up speed (playing at The Louisiana, The Thunderbolt and Rough Trade, among other venues) when Covid put the brakes on their momentum. In an interview earlier this year, they described how the frustration of not being able to play live proved fuel for their sound: pent-up energy and itchy vitality are written into the fibre of their music, and you can hear the force of it in tracks like Newborn. With lockdowns easing off this spring, Hypothetics were ready to embrace freedom, taking on Bristol’s Harbourside Festival and Brighton’s Great Escape, as well as several Bristol venues.
The two star tracks of the evening made an appearance early in the set. Newborn is shouty, urgent and poetic. Several timing shifts from fast to slow and back again keep you on your toes, with lyrics deeply felt without being sentimental. Honest, weird, raw, wide-eyed – it sounds like a band wired into some strange, vital truth. Even more dazzling perhaps is Don’t Speak, which opens with scrunching distorted guitars, crisp and wildly creative lyrics, and a chorus that fizzes with a young Arctic Monkeys-ish energy. Lead singer George had some inspired dance moves to throw into the mix, and the crowd were on board – it would have been very hard to stand still, not that I tried.
With the freshness, effervescence and raw edge of a wedge of lemon at the end of a Coke, Hypothetics delivered an exceptionally tight and assured sound that belies their relative newness as a band, and points to what can only be buckets of raw talent. I’m already looking forward to the next gig, and I feel like it’s worth catching Hypothetics at local venues before they hit the stratosphere.
Hypothetics play Smokey Joe’s in Cheltenham on August 26; the Ritz Social Club in Burnham-on-Sea on September 3; Forwards festival in Bristol on September 4; and The Crofter’s Rights in Bristol on September 7. Tickets for all gigs are here.
Music and merch, including the Newborn and Don’t Speak flexidiscs, are here.