This was one of those rare nights at Brudenell Social Club, in Leeds, where you could actually get a seat and sit back and enjoy the array of talent on display. The two bands we were treated to were worthy of a much larger audience, as the venue was only half full.
First up was the hypnotic Wildwood Kin, so named as all three girls are relatives. Their stripped back style and thoroughly impressive harmonies made you imagine what it must have been like to have been part of Woodstock in it’s early years. They are by no means a seventies rival act however, they took the ideas of that era and have developed them for modern hippies. They also showed that they are far from one trick ponies with tracks like “Warrior Daughter” proving that they can take their base material of the emotive and, through alchemy, add power and forceful musicianship to create much more upbeat tracks. Wildwood Kin had a very timid, shy and unassuming stage presence, which gave them an endearing quality before they even struck a note. As they began to play this endearment grew to admiration especially during some wonderful three part harmonies.
As the three shy and humble girls left the stage they were replaced by seven jovial, confident and energetic musicians, The Oh Hellos. There was barely enough room for them all. and their equipment, on stage and I fearer that the barefooted banjo player was in real danger of having his feet trodden on, as he relentlessly and enthusiastically threw himself about the stage and jumped around. Hailing from Austin, Texas, they effortlessly combine moments of beauty with the explosive. They displayed some beautiful and peaceful, almost acapella, harmonies before bursting in raucous blistering pockets of upbeat energy. During these high energy moments there were audible elements of the influence of the old west, like a futuristic hoedown with Fleet Foxes occasionally chipping in. The audience loved the ebb and flow as siblings Maggie and Tyler Heath teased them with their soothing harmonies before cutting loose.
Collectively the band possessed a happy, smiling, relaxed and incredibly likeable demeanour, whether it be during their entertaining and self deprecating interactions with the crowd or in their joyous expressions as they belted out their material. They seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves on stage and didn’t seem to take themselves too seriously, despite being a collection of fine and vastly talented musicians. They created a warm and welcoming atmosphere almost like you were watching a group of your own friends perform at a party. They instantly had the audience on their side and they were determined to make sure that both the band and the crowd had a great time. This tour was The Oh Hellos first time performing in England and I would welcome them back with open arms and encourage anyone to try and catch them next time they are here.