“We shouldn’t say this, because, like with kids, you’re not meant to have a favourite” exclaims Gengahr’s singer and front-man Felix Bushe as he greets an excited crowd in the band’s hometown of Hackney. Fresh off the back of the release of the band’s third studio album, Sanctuary, the Stoke Newington four-piece came to the fantastic EartH Hall to play us some of their psych-pop bangers.
In ‘Mallory’, Bushe’s distinctive warbling voice is a treat, jumping deftly from an earthy baritone to falsetto. The full composition however isn’t as deft; the sonic layers bleeding into one another, creating somewhat soupy backdrop. This is likely a technical shortcoming, however, as ‘Never a Low’ demonstrates a much more balanced composition with dark, rumbling bass and falsetto vocals scattered on top.
‘Embers’ builds on Danny Ward’s chugging, dynamic drums to a glitchy, poppy crescendo and a distorted synthetic breakdown; the more haunting 8-bit-esque melodies are reminiscent of the band’s namesake Genghar. ‘Everything and More’ is one of the slower songs from the band’s new album ‘Sanctuary’, but it is more expansive and it fills the space well; the numerous layers compensating for it’s slower pace.
One of the more peculiar parts of the evening sees the group launch into a pop cover of Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 track ‘LOVE.’ It works, though. Bushe’s vocals don’t sound too far from what could feasibly be one of Lamar’s alter-ego voices. The rest of the band put their own twist on the track, making it sound unmistakably Gengahr-y without doing the original any injustice.
It’s hard to put into words what it is that Gengahr are doing right; they’re hitting all the right notes in the seemingly over-saturated field of indie-pop-rock. There’s only so far that polished records can get you however, and (being incredibly picky here) there is work that could be done on the performance/production side. The houseplants littering the stage invoke a sense of calm restraint when it feels like there’s something more bubbling under the surface.
As if having heard my inner monologue, and having saved the best for last, the band re-emerge to an excited crowd to perform their newest single ‘Heavenly Maybe’. It is a deliriously groovy tune with a bright, bouncy bassline and sultry vocals. It’s an effervescent, captivating song which perfectly summarises Gengahr’s vibe, and may be just the ticket for the band’s likely rise to stardom.