Friday, December 18, 2020

Warmduscher- Live at Hackney EartH 12.12.20

As I sit on the tube on my way to Dalston I can feel the excitement and anticipation build up inside my stomach. This is my first gig of 2020 and will likely be my last too. The name of the band I’m going to see, Warmduscher, translates literally to “warm showerer” but as a fluent German speaker I know that it is more similar in meaning to the english word ‘wimp’. 

While I’m waiting between the white social distancing lines in the cold London air I notice the strange audience that the show has attracted. Even though people are largely masked, the diversity of the crowd is apparent, fans are aged anywhere between 18-50 and there are no clear similarities between anyone attending (apart from the fact that every third attendee or so dons a rolled up beanie). 

Hackney EartH, the Art Deco venue hosting the evening, is in a state of purposeful disrepair and makes an oddly fitting background for such a strange affair. There's something familiar yet altogether alien about being in a music venue after a year. The familiar hue of the sound technician’s board, the spotlights illuminating the unmanned instruments on the stage suggestively.

The ushers are strangely welcoming and I find out later that this has been the first gig held here since March. After 9 months of an empty hall, I find myself grateful that I am allowed to be here. As the crowd slowly trickles in, people in their various configurations of pairs, gig-going is no longer familiar to most as they navigate through the venue in distanced single-file lines. I’m close enough to overhear conversations revolving around covid and murmurs of how strange this brave new world is. I’m not sure this is what Huxley imagined. 

Yet there’s a feeling of anticipation that begins to bubble when the bar opens and the crowd begins to grow bigger. Soon the eery aura of lowered conversation and faint music playing over the speaker begins to dissipate into the normal soundtrack of jolly conversation that characterises live music events. I order a drink as a veiled excuse to take my mask off and when I do the smell of stale cigarette smoke hits me. I finally feel like some semblance of normality has returned. 

Two overly enthusiastic women in front of me wave their hands for urgent bar service and yell their order of “tequila, vodka, gin or prosecco” across the hall. I think they settle for prosecco and the smoke machine at the back of the stage begins churning out an artificial mist. The two women stumble down the stairs to their friends and the show begins. 

The set opens to a low hum of synths and reverbed guitar twangs and the band open their set with a high energy rendition of their song ‘Big Wilma’. Warmduscher make music that is hard to sit still to anyway but with the siren call of a cowboy hat clad Clams Baker a mere 30 feet away from me, it’s near impossible not to headbang a little. The drunker prosecco lady clearly echoes this sentiment as 2 minutes in as she enthusiastically sways in her seat, clearly itching to get up and dance. 

This is the magic of Warmduscher. An eclectic group that makes the kind of music that gets you out of your head and into your body. From the way they present themselves on stage to the pet names they give each other, each element of their show is more than a performance, it’s perhaps more aptly described as an immersive experience. The studio doesn’t do a band like this justice, since so much of their personality shines through on stage. 

As the band settle into their third, and arguably their most popular, song ‘Midnight Dipper’, the crowd energy surges. Having drawn comparisons to Danny Devito in my mind, Warmduscher frontman Clams Baker has one of the most intoxicating stage presences I’ve witnessed to date. He positions himself clearly as the centre of energy for the band and with every microphone swing and backside scratch I find it hard to take my eyes off of him.

This is not to say that Baker alone is the star of Warmduscher, scanning the stage it’s apparent that each member is a master of their own domain with carefully curated looks to prove it. As a whole, I have never seen a more interesting looking band. A good illustration of how different-but-complementary the band is can be found in the synth player, ‘Little Whiskers’. On first impressions he is the antithesis of Baker’s playful stage persona with his slicked back hair, sunglasses at night a la Corey Hart and full three-piece suit. However this contrast doesn’t mean a lack of cohesive sound, the synths play around the vocals just as Baker works around Little Whiskers. His inconspicuousness marries perfectly with Bakers boldness. 

As the set continues in a steady incline, the band does a great job of building on the energy of the crowd. One of the standout moments of the show for me is during the end of ‘Tainted Lunch’ where the drummer manages to steal the show and almost drown out all other sound. I realise at this point that I’m not quite sure when he ended up shirtless but the energy being channelled into this performance in the moment makes me realise why it was probably very necessary. It is not a coincidence that this also happens to be the moment when prosecco lady begins a one-man moshing pit and her boyfriend has to stop her from trying to get on stage.

From this point onwards in the set the band get increasingly more and more energised and the crowd seem to respond more with every song. This building feeling is amplified by the steady stream of red to purple to blue lighting throughout. This energy peaks during, what is in my opinion, the best musical moment in the set ‘Disco Peanuts’. Warmduscher welcome the mesmerising Nuha Ruby Ra to the stage and what follows is an amazing mix of Ra’s vocals and exuberance with the disco-rave feeling of the track. It is around this time the backing vocalist takes off his leather jacket and for the rest of the set it becomes a group effort to push the audience to the finish line and they do so with enthusiasm and skill. 

When the lights turn on and the set is over, my biggest criticism of the set is the shortish run time of about one hour. Warmduscher is one of those bands that I implore you to see live if you have the opportunity to. Although things might be a bit strange for live music now, I think prosecco lady summed it up best when she drunkenly stumbled past me as she was leaving... “Well that’s just gigs in covid time”. 

-Dilara Ball

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Here;