I’ve never ventured out from my cosy little bubble of regular venues to the Marr’s Bar before, but I’m glad I did and it’s been promptly added to my list of exciting underground places to frequent. So, the gig, it’s always all about the music…and Oh! What music! Chiyoda-Ku are just about to take the stage as I arrive, three unimpressive looking youths plucking strings and looking generally nervous about the growing crowd of 18-21s. I take a seat. The glorious measured madness begins.
The divergent, disjointed but somehow mathematical first number really makes me question everything I thought I knew about music in the first 30 seconds. Oak’s bass is heavy and fills the room with a grungy mid 80s rock sound while the guitar is looped again and again on the plethora of technology at Charlie Barnes’ feet, giving a psychedelic feel and adding to the repetitive, head nodding rhythm emanating from the bass. The imaginative and sometimes irregular drumming from Toby Green makes me question whether it’s intentional or by accident, but either way, it joins in wholeheartedly with the melodic delirium that seems to be the calling card for this Bristol band.
Ears and brain still ringing from the Bristol boys I sit myself back down and hope for a short reprieve but oh no, the curtain rises again within a matter of minutes to the explosive sound of Broken Oak Duet. The young two piece from Worcester are both fast and furious- Howard James Kenny’s control over his wayward drum kit is truly spectacular, leaning heavily towards a Metal influence. The sweat-soaked shirt comes off after the first 5 minutes and Kenny announces “This is the nicest stage I’ve ever played on- it smells of a thousand aftershaves”. Tom Morgan and his Baritone really make the night for me; if I close my eyes I could be listening to a very angry Marcus Miller. The sound is so funky and bass-like and partnered with the fury of Kenny’s drumming it slaps you right between the eardrums.
The crowd has visibly grown and the age range has increased, making it clear that Sœur are not just for the under 25s. Formed in 2015 from artists Anya Pulver (Guitar and vocal), Tina Maynard (Guitar and vocal) and James Collins (Drums), this dynamic and punchy female-led group definitely earn their accolades. From the get go the crowd is lively (even entertaining a crowd surfer towards the end of the night) and full of Sœur fans of every age singing along to the catchy, and often hard hitting, lyrics.
I am immediately impressed by Maynard’s soulful vocals tangled with Pulver’s raw and edgy sound, the lyrical ping pong of songs like No Fire and surprisingly good a-capella elements of Just Yet. The sound is BIG, the sound is BRUTAL. The best song of the night is definitely Slow Days introduced by Pulver: “There’s so many awful things happening in the world right now, but we’re all here together. Just enjoying the music”.