Thanks to the lovely warm up performance by The Hundredth Anniversary, Fear of Men were greeted by claps and cheers at The Hope. Following a busy Summer of touring and being somebody else’s support act (the Pains of Being Pure At Heart helped take them across to the US and the rest of Europe), the band began with a strong opening and quickly merged into several songs off their debut album, Loom.
The lead singer Jessica Weiss’ cooing vocals swept away the audience to another planet made up solely of shoegaze, vegan cafes and cutesy beach houses (not a coincidence that they’re Brighton based), whilst the guitars fit in as a perfect backdrop. Packed to the brim, the upstairs of The Hope (a brilliant pub with somewhat questionably priced alcohol) was perhaps too small a venue for such a large sounding group.
Their dreamy shoegaze/twee pop with a sort of 60s girl group twang would suit a much larger space which could allow the vocals to travel and echo. Instead, the gig felt too squashed and intimate in the bad sense. As much as fans would love to get right up close, it left others with rucksacks in their faces and pints almost being spilt.
Despite the lack of oxygen at times, the audience were eager to soak in every ounce of the band’s beautiful soundscapes. Some were at times rather rudely talking over songs, but for the most part it was a sweet display of locals getting to hear a local band done good.
When reaching the inevitable encore (unless you went to the alt-J gig which didn’t seem to feature one!), the group finished with two songs practically gupled up by the dazed audience.
The final notes of “Ritual Confession” complemented their opening track to the set, “Waterfalls”, beautifully and left the crowd with a perfect reminder of who they are and a promise of where they’re going.
Photo credit: Isobel Harrop