Review of The Bohicas w/ Return To The Sun + Whitehill Grove @ Electric Circus (7/10/2015)

Written by Liam Dickson @ FEAST
I wish more bands would take themselves as not-so-seriously as The Bohicas – the passion for performing within a genre you love conveys far more to the listener than squeezing yourself into the earnest-shaped hole you think the public expect. Their second gig in Edinburgh (and coincidentally their second at Electric Circus) was a boisterous let-your-hair-down cure for the midweek blues!
First up tonight, Return To The Sun deliver a top notch set, their more Scots-rock oriented sound standing not in opposition to the bluesy-indie rock of The Bohicas but rather in complementary contrast, a display of the energy of both the north and the south under one roof. The Edinburgh group are doing the rounds in support of their upcoming EP ‘ElevenFiftySeven’ (cool title!) due for release in December; quite a while away but better to have the punters over-hyped and foaming at the mouth rather than under-hyped and indifferent. Turning on a distortion pedal seems like the easiest task in the world but very few really get it right – these guys did, and their heavier sections are glorious! More epic than Rome and tighter than the Tory party budget, they turned in a performance to be proud of. You could listen to the shrrredding lead guitar until your ears bled and the drummer thumped a mean tub with some flourishes and fills that make you say “woa-hoah, where did that come from?!”. There wasn’t much variety in style/sound between songs but that is a moot point; whilst some bands try to adopt a different façade for each of their tunes, others explore all the possibilities within one style that works for them and Return To The Sun have a hell of a lot more room to move within their groove before we get even remotely fed up of it.
Whilst reeeally not wanting to be unduly harsh towards the next band, you can’t help but wonder how Whitehill Grove blagged the main support slot tonight. The pop-punkish three piece turned in a set that, whilst undoubtedly under-rehearsed, still appeared to convey the joy and energy of three lads imitating their idols. Nothing wrong with the performance per se, it just felt like they needed a few extra months of honing their song writing craft and getting it ‘there’ in terms of tightness as a band before they start making some waves. Well, I did think that – right up until they started taking the mick a bit too much. The bassist would sarcastically clap his hands or give an annoyingly arrogant thumbs-up towards the singer anytime a bum note was played; the singer would cast unmissable daggers towards the bassist in response to every piece of improvised banter with the crowd; and the drummer kept looking towards the other two for his queue despite, you know, being the timekeeper. Unless you’re the Gallagher’s this level of obvious tension on stage is just not fun to watch; a bad case of ‘well I didn’t mess up’ syndrome. The thing is though, the singer/guitarist had a good sense of melody and he could really sing – at points his voice had a fantastic raspy quality to it! He’ll do well for himself if he keeps at it and if the band as a whole stops mucking around – there was a fair crowd in Electric Circus tonight and they fluffed up a good opportunity to blag their selves some new fanboys and girls. Sorry guys, I can’t lie! The Bohicas

But enough of that, on to the main attraction – The Bohicas! Essex lads only in birth right, they saunter on stage to some choice soul funk and hit the ground running with ‘Upside Down’, guitarist Dom John with his leather vest and wide-brimmed hat making him look the lovechild of Pete Doherty and Jimi Hendrix and lead singer/guitarist Dominic justifiably confident in himself but not arrogantly so; you see the inherent gratitude when he makes not-uncomfortable eye contact with most in the crowd. The mammoth 12-song set (mammoth for this scale of gig anyway) is unrelenting; even the ‘slower’ ones aren’t even that slow, only describable as such in comparison to the rabid indie energy of tracks such as ‘XXX’ and ‘Crush Me’. A wise decision to never let the pace drop – the crowd just keep getting more and more and more into it as we witness the evolution from head-nodding to body-swaying until every punter on the floor is dancing, and I mean REALLY dancing, excluding those who deem themselves ‘too cool to dance’ who act like I can’t see their feet tapping along in spite of their composed face. The guitar tone is brilliant, both guitarists taking equal prominence in terms of alternating rhythm/lead duties with some mad, mad solos – it’s not ground breaking but they never claimed to be! “We’ve got one more song to play for you” they say… “SWARM! SWAAARM!” the audience scream! They save the best for last, the anticipation within the crowd finally released in a manic performance featuring a riff that seems so simple on paper but is without a doubt their most effective by far. Even after 12 songs the crowd could easily have lapped up more and the faithful quite-a-few scrabble for a copy of the set list (sorry guys, I got there first!). I leave to catch my bus as soon as the performance finishes, and within the two minutes it took me to grab my coat and leave the venue I get outside and see lead singer Dominic ‘swarmed’ by a big handful of fans, pestering for a selfie and singing his praises. I shout over, “You guys were awesome!”, but he’s too preoccupied to notice – fair play to him, that performance warranted some adoration!

Check out Return To The Sun on Facebook for updates on their upcoming ‘ElevenFiftySeven’ EP:
Check out Whitehill Grove on Facebook:
Head over to The Bohicas website for tour dates, tunes and more:

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