Concert Review: Honeyblood @ Rough Trade East

Honeyblood
Photo by Laura Coulson

Firstly, it should be pointed out that tonight’s show at Rough Trade East was not Honeyblood’s prime gig in the capital this evening. Following their short set at the prestigious record store, they headed to another of Shoreditch’s key music locations, namely the Vice-owned pub/venue The Old Blue Last. With a longer set and support from both Polterghost and Playlounge, it was to be Honeyblood’s proper debut release-show in London, following on from a gig in the duo’s home city of Glasgow the previous night. Unfortunately, demands required me to leave London’s urban joys for my more rural residence earlier than I had hoped, and so the seven o’clock slot at the more connoisseur, less sweaty of the two venues was my choice of location.

As a way of showcasing their endearing-yet-biting debut record, Honeyblood, the three shows the band were playing over today and yesterday were all free of charge. This is obviously partly due to the fact that Honeyblood plan to draw in those who may not otherwise have bothered paying, but also expresses their love of the combination of their own music and translating it to a live experience, something which was apparent so early on. The duo, Stina Tweeddale and Shona McVicar, were stood on the left as we entered the store. If they hadn’t been signing a copy of their LP, you would never have guessed they were tonight’s performers. Unless perhaps you looked at Rough Trade’s album of the week section, which had the faces of Tweeddale and McVicar on the front as the cover of their record. Even as we hit seven, and the duo took to the tiny stage, there was no sense of any overblown characters or even the sort of lazy attention grabbing which can sometime be found among ‘cool,’ young musicians. Nope, Honeyblood were eager to do nothing but showcase some new tunes live, and in a room full of great music on record, they couldn’t have given a better impression.

Clearly working a close relationship in and out of the band, the chemistry between Tweeddale and McVicar sparked with success throughout the set. Opener ‘’Float Forever’’ is perhaps the heaviest of the tracks from the album, but the pairs skill in writing a chorus pins it down also as one of Honeyblood’s best. ‘’Killer Bangs,’’ a single released previously and written for McVicar from Tweeddale, upped the velocity somewhat, as its breakneck pace and killer chorus holds no punches. Comparison to acts in the vein of Hole and The Breeders have been drawn, but these guys are anything but copycats. The slightly awkward posturing of Tweeddale belies the compact intensity of the music, though with plenty of charm chucked in along the way. Another highlight, ‘’Bud,’’ also a single, was performed as it was recorded before the inclusion of an acoustic guitar for the album. Tweeddale only stopped pace a couple of times, thanking those gathered for attending as well as expressing how ‘flattered’ she was that Rough Trade had made Honeyblood the album of the week. Her sincerity was touching, as it was her only crowd interaction during the performance. It’s indicative of the simple, appealing real-ness to the band. They play, they thank, they feel ‘flattered.’ Nothing else matters.

New single ‘’Super Rat’’ was perhaps the most well received, with nods and grins at Tweeddale’s enraged attacks on the ‘scumbag sleaze’ in question. Her ending yelps of ‘you really do disgust me’ gained both approval and admiration for the boldness of the young singer’s writing. Following the end of the set, there was a queue of people, both having just arrived and those in attendance from the start, armed with Honeyblood in the hope of a signature. The show was small, quite short, and only a prep for the proper set this evening. However, it was a perfect reflection of what makes Honeyblood so engaging. It was direct, it was confident, and it was full of passion. Some bands seem to just have it, a phrase which sounds cliché but is oh so true. Are Honeyblood such a band? It’s hard to tell at this stage, but their showing this evening certainly forces one to ask such questions.

For an interview with Honeyblood, click here.

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Review by Ben Lynch |

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