Cults + Famy – Live @ Village Underground
aaamusic | On 18, Mar 2014
Village Underground is the perfect backdrop for what is to be Cults first headline London show in a while. The renovated warehouse’s exposed bricks, steel work and dimly lit space creates a shady and moody tone reminiscent of the band’s sound. A leather and black clad crowd gathers as the stage is set for the support band Famy to begin tonight’s show.
The stage is only highlighted by a deep blue light as the members of Famy enter the stage to religious-like choral chants, similar to something you would hear in a cathedral. As soon as all four members (well five if you choose to include the porcelain statue wearing a Transgressive football shirt) are in view the chanting becomes more insistent creating this vast soundscape that could fill double if not triple this venue’s capacity. It’s captivating and a strong opening to what is a great set full of woozy soft melodies, beautiful harmonies and chants and overwhelming epic-ness you wouldn’t necessarily expect from just the support band.
Not only does the band have good synchronicity in the way they perform together, but the way they interact with crowd is also something to praise, as their drummer and vocalist jumps in to the middle of the crowd with the mic to tease and dance with members of the audience on the third song, while recording this moment with a camera on his head, which is humorous in itself. Though their songs have heavy undertones of mantras and drumming, the romanticism of the lyrics and vintage 60s sound almost evocative of the Beach Boys, channelling sincerity and an innocent naïveté that makes them intriguing and definitely a band to watch over this year.
Old Turner Movie Classic music is blared out to introduce the NYC duo and their band, while four TV screens displaying static are suspended above the murky stage. A dark pulsating beat builds as the band starts off with ‘High Road’ from Static, their second album, only the lead singer Madeline Follin is visible in the spotlight as her band is drenched in the darkness. She saunters and sways as she sings into the microphone, conveying confidence and, as the band comes into view, channels an undefined coolness that gives Cults their edge.
After a taste of the new, up next is the lovelorn ‘Abducted’ – the band’s debut single, which cemented them in the alternative scene. Every line of the song is sung with such expression the emotions of unrequited love are read across Follin’s face. ‘Always Forever’ live permits you to really hear each layer of Cults sound: the synths, the keyboards, the fuzzy guitar and the percussion with hints of the Organ thrown in for good measure on this track. ‘Weird Beat’ has a low down, bleak and edgy manner which connotes the title of the song perfectly in this venue. ‘You Know What I Mean’ is roused by the intensity of the drum and accompanied with pale blue mood lighting with raindrops being projected against the brick walls. A focal point of the show comes in the form of ‘So Far’ as Brian Oblivion shows off his multi-instrumentalist skills as he opens up the song with a bassy guitar riff and later on switches to keyboard, while Follin portrays understated sexiness as she dances on stage. ‘I Can Hardly Make You Mine’ is another highlight – an upbeat moment coloured with grungy guitars and synths whilst psychedelic projections mimic the hectic nature of the song.
As the band re-enters the stage for their encore Oblivion dedicates ‘Rave On’, “…to people trying to have fun on a Tuesday night.” But is corrected by Follin, “its Monday”, in which he replies, “…that’s even worse,” laughing; showing the bond between the two vocalists. His coyness and stage talk is almost enough to make you forgive his vocal weakness, which has been more evident when accompanying Follin on various songs throughout the set. Cults’ encore is a goody bag of their big hitters – ‘Go Outside’ conjures up images of summer afternoons just as spring starts to awaken here in the UK and even brings a lightness amidst the darkness of the Underground.
As the band prepares for their last song, Oblivion thanks the crowd for being part of the rock community and displays Cults’ romantic pulse: “…I hope you guys have your first kiss to this song – that’s what it’s all about”, which is said with such earnestness it’s difficult to find it cheesy. ‘Oh My God’ closes out the set, causing euphoria to wash over myself and the audience, as the angelic, youthful yet raucous sounds are welcomed by roaring cheers as the song brings an enjoyable evening to an end.
Review and Photos: Lois Browne