In a world where many smaller venues are tragically being forced to shut down due to the unsustainability of running a venue, it came as an almost revitalising breath of fresh air to see The Social so effortlessly living up to its namesake for Bryony.
The narrow, underground venue is situated directly underneath the main bar room and isminimalistically lit by fairy lights along the walls, with tasteful artificial candles taking residence on the tables heightening the room’s soothing ambience.
The venue was filled with a wide range of loquacious people, excitedly chatting amongst their respective groups. The friendly and anticipatory atmosphere awaited the performances from the eclectic range of exciting up and coming acts that the night had to offer.
The room was brought to tranquility with the soft, three point harmonies that opened the diverse set of Italian singer-songwriter Heren Wolf. Dressed entirely in black, the singer-songwriter wore a long, flowing cardigan with a buttoned up shirt and jeans, providing a similar aesthetic to Ezra Miller’s character Patrick from Perks of Being a Wallflower. Incorporating elements of soul, rock and electro pop, the slow-paced, legato instrumentation and reverberated, atmospheric guitar and keyboard tones created melancholic undertones reminiscent to that used in Hozier’s music. However, his swift transitions between chest voice and falsetto and his impassioned stage presence and hand movements held closer resemblance to Sam Smith.
The band were consistently tight for the entirety of his set, with the backing vocalists heightening the mellifluous vocals during the softer points of his tracks, whilst packing a choral-esque power during the rockier parts of the set. His penultimate track, ‘Mother’, encapsulated all of the strengths from this artist’s sound. Beginning with a stripped-back, melancholic instrumentation, the track showcased the artist at his most dynamically adventurous when the roaring, distorted guitars, steady yet bashful drums and high-registered, emotionally captivating vocals erupted in a way that demanded the attention of its audience.
The guitarist and lead vocalist did well to keep the set as equally visually engaging as possible, despite the staging limitations that the 7-piece musicians faced. Heren Wolf’s set exhibited great potential and room for development, with the development and emphasis of hooks being a main area for potential growth for an already highly captivating artist.
Heren Wolf Rating: 7/10
Right from the opening of the dynamically explosive, rock influenced powerhouse ‘Stronger’, it was clear that Bryony was a deserved and natural fit for the headline slot. The track begins with a simplistic yet ear-catching synth riff, which progresses into thechorus supported by a thunderous, driving bass line and drums played with the hardhitting velocity of rock music. The incorporation of clave rhythms kept the track grounded in its pop roots. The electrifying energy induced from this track was only further intensified from the invigorating stage presence from each of the three performers onstage.
Bryony is certainly an artist who knows how to keep her audience engaged and no moment of her set more perfectly accentuated this than the performance of her second single ‘Bad Move’. Bryony sings the final phrase of the chorus ‘just know, you’ve made a bad move’ and is met with the unanimous chant of the song’s namesake from the entire audience, just as the track drops into its instrumental refrain.
This crowd interaction was another charming component to the artist’s set: the infectious smiles shared between the three band members, as they exchanged glances at each other further emphasising the importance of this moment.
Another highlight from the set was ‘How It Ends’, a new track which arguably showcases Bryony at her most commercially leaning. Opening with a highly reverberated guitar, playing an arpeggiated chord sequence, the track does well to pay homage to the modern pop artist Dua Lipa and her Brit nominated track IDGAF.
Nonetheless, the track still has a way of defining itself from its inspirations and the other tracks in the setlist. The chorus showcases Bryony at her most vocally experimental, with halfsung, half-spoken chants at the beginning of each vocal phrase, projected with a layer of unapologetic assertiveness that has become a staple of Bryony’s delivery. Additionally, this track further highlights Bryony’s ability to push past the realms of her comfort zone and into new and exciting sounds.
Throughout her performance, Bryony’s onstage demeanour radiated the female-empowering ethos that defines her as an artist. It was during ‘2AM’, the closing track of her set, that her expressive hand gestures took to the forefront, following each of the instrumental stabs that take place during the chorus.
This stage presence further conveys the emotion behind the track’s empowering lyrical content, which discusses the process of deciding to remove a toxic person from your life. Judging by the copious cheers and screams from the front of the audience, the authentic sentiments expressed in ‘2AM’ are something that so many can both relate to and enjoy, and this is one of many reasons why people will keep coming back to see Bryony.
Bryony rating 10/10
Photography by Fil Mazzarino