Saturday night saw Still Can’t Run Promotions showcase a fantastic line up in the form of Tom Branfoot, Polevaulter and headliners Witch Fever at the highly acclaimed DIY cooperative venue Wharf Chambers.
Appearing on stage with an interesting 70s inspired aesthetic, Leeds based Tom Branfoot indulged in a set spanning all manners of artistic expression, from spoken word and poetry through to provocative, introspective songs presented over a rumbling drum machine and gloomy guitar riffs.
Having recently just released his latest work ‘Bloodsongs’, it was great to hear newly composed tracks performed with an empowering vigour. Tom’s music is clearly very personal and this comes across marvellously as he makes his way around the stage, at times falling to the floor and his raw, no-frills vocals ascending beyond the confines of the PA system.
Owing to the cathartic and engaging qualities of his music, the crowd was impressively hooked throughout his set as he weaved his way through tales of adversity and misdemeanour. The highlight of the set for me was new track ‘Hungover, Heartbroken’, a deeply immersive song with alluring, wistful lyrics and interesting vocal hooks.
Second up was alt-noise band Polevaulter from Huddersfield. Polevaulter have been making waves in the local music scene with appearances in various venues across the North in recent years, and recently had their song ‘Secondhand’ played on BBC Radio 6.
The set was everything you would want from such a band – angry, discordant and loud. The emotionally charged vocals blended perfectly with the punky riffs and heavy drums to create a monumental wall of sound. For a relatively young band they have a solid and accomplished approach that will undoubtedly see them gain even greater support slots and bigger headline shows as their career develops.
Finally, it was time for Manchester’s five-piece Witch Fever to take to the stage.
Comprised of lead guitarist Alisha, rhythm guitarist Emilia, bassist Alex, drummer Annabelle and vocalist Amy, Witch Fever present an all too uncommon spectacle in punk – a band made up entirely of female members, stating that “We’re all passionate about music and through playing together we continue to encourage and empower each other. We are also driven by the importance of disproving all the stigma and stereotypes attached to female musicians.”
Personally, I am a huge fan of music with such components, having grown up listening to a cocktail of powerhouse female musicians in punk and grunge through bands like The Distillers, Kittie, The Donnas, Bikini Kill and Tsunami Bomb. Therefore I was delighted to see a new band carrying the torch of the old greats, with a dramatic sound filled with subtle flairs and connotations to create a cacophonous yet charming live spectacle packed with menace and urgency.
The raw, intense energy on stage as they proceeded through their set was remarkable and refreshing to see. The new song ‘Toothless’ in particular sounded fantastic and enabled the crowd to witness a band full of extraordinary potential and the capacity to shake up cultural and musical preconceptions. The sheer potency of Amy’s vocals is truly something to witness, and the rest of the band expertly construct a formidable context to unleash them in. Any band using their music as a platform to advocate important cultural issues such as sexism and equality deserve great respect, and Witch Fever encapsulate this ideology perfectly. Go out and see their live show; you won’t be disappointed!
You can catch Witch Fever live this month on the 19th in Manchester and the 26th in Blackpool and their new video for ‘Toothless’ is up now for streaming on YouTube.
Editor’s Note: Leeds Living hopes Gary Hocking’s vivid review will conjure up many images! Owing to a rare technical hitch, we are relying on your imagination!
Gary writes for Leeds Living on contemporary music, being an avid goer of gigs and a supporter of local talent.