The BoHos, Otherkin, SPLIT, The Higherside, Arts Club Loft, 25/03/2017

With Liverpool packed with gigs on a usual Saturday night, SFN‘s James Ainsworth took an indifferent trip to the Arts Club for a mostly unimpressive night of music headlined by The BoHos.

The Higherside made a thundering start to the proceedings, presenting their indie rock, Britpop sounds to the presently empty Arts Club, with only a few herd of people gathered a few meters from the front. With only a couple of budding photographers/ videographers, including myself stood at the front. Which is a shame, because The Higherside were pretty dam good.

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Bringing a unique sound to the stage, with the singer, Mick Williams’ unique voice and the rest of the bands talented musicianship. Their stage presence was fair too, yes, they seemed a little daunted by the stage, but they still proved confident whilst playing and moved around the stage a bit too, which is a pleasant surprise seeing that we normally see young bands like this stay still and placid throughout a performance. I was pleasantly surprised with this half an hour set, sure they may not be contenders with the big boys, but we don’t expect them too and they showed what a young band in Liverpool should be.

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After a fifteen-minute break, more youngens, Split, took the stage. And I can’t say I was all that impressed. Split showed an extremely confident bravado and energetic stage presence, with the Lee Mavers look-alike singer bonding round the stage left and right. They certainly put on a good show. But their sound just didn’t compare, yes it was energetic but it was loud, brash, uncomfortable and didn’t show much musical talent. They’re the kind of band you want to put your fingers in your ears to when watching them out the wailings coming out of the speakers. The audience however, loved them. Having almost doubled, they bounded around the floor of the Arts Club like a bunch of underage drunk zombies, most likely being comprised of friends and girlfriends, no doubt. It’s a shame The Higherside didn’t get this treatment. In the end Split played a half an hour set, and it’s seemingly obvious that people liked them, but I just didn’t get it. Hopefully the next band will restore my faith.

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Next, and the last opener for the night was Otherkin. Otherkin struck me as a bit of an oddity at this sort of gig, they were seemingly older and have just come back off a tour supporting the hotly tipped, Amazons. Yet here we are, this Dublin band on a set with such younger, and shyer bands. But Otherkin brought back a refined anarchic energy to the stage, the grunge-pop band exploded onto the stage with a confident bravado that blew away the room. Their music matched their stage presence with thumping grunge beats and riffs that had everyone a mix of moving, dancing and headbanging. The audience loved them, dancing in the same way they’d done the last two sets, though admittedly a bit more tired.  The singer, Luke Reilly made a fantastic job of engaging with the audience with infectious face and punk looks, he got the audience deeply involved with the set. A highlight of which was humping of the stage, into the audience and getting everyone on the floor where he continued to play the rest of the song, surrounded by a pack of new fans, this kind of audience participation is on par with the likes of Liverpool’s own Queen Zee And the Sasstones, now there’s a battle of the bands I’d love to see. Otherkin’s set was the highlight of the night, I’d almost say outdoing The Bohos themselves, to which I’m sure they’d agree, it was a fantastic set.

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Alas, the moment had arrived, the main guys themselves, the Bohos had arrived on stage. The Bohos came on with a bit more confidence than we’d seen previously at the O2 and The Zanzibar, perhaps because of exposure, we don’t know. But it’s a good look for these young lads. Their connection with the audience had improved as well. It’s a lot different then what we saw at he O2 Academy with Cast. It’s great to see a band move and grow like this. Their set was filled with the confidence they were showing on stage. Playing all the usual indie tunes, and of course my new favourite Britpop tune, “Monday Morning” taking pride of place on their set. However, this is a worry for the Bohos. It struck me that a lot of their sets are becoming a little too repetitive, with us being able to anticipate what’s coming next. Be nice to see the Bohos do something different to what we’ve seen before, perhaps an odd impromptu cover or take a leap out of Otherkin’s book and get involved with the audience maybe? Who knows. Their loyal fan bases loved them, giving back all the love the band were sending out. Before arriving, I wondered how a band such as these would play and venue such as the Arts Club. Could they fill it up, this is no disrespect to the band, The Bohos persona is already enough to fill the room, just the arts club is used to housing larger mainstream bands and still appearing empty. However, my suspicions were pleasantly laid to rest as the Arts Club, not full, certainly didn’t feel empty and the room that was left, provided plenty of space for the audience to dance.

In the end, the Bohos played a good gig, we are just left with the feeling that The Bohos could always achieve better and grow more as a band and as performers and characters to make a more varied show. Altogether, it was a great night with all acts giving, certainly a different approach.

Words and photography by James Ainsworth.

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