It hasn’t yet been 18 months since Gengahr opened for Wolf Alice here at the Scala – yet here they are, headlining their own comfortably sold-out show at the North London venue.
First on are Pumarosa, all ethereal vocals and a lighting rig reminiscent at times of Warpaint. But with singer Isabel Munoz-Newsome cracking out a drum stick to bow her guitar alongside an occasional saxophone appearance, the band have a sound all of their own. As they close on debut single ‘Priestess’, Munoz-Newsome throws the kind of shapes that’d make the dancing lady emoji envious.
In comparison, Cash + David – tonight a trio rather than a duo – have zero stage presence. Singer Liz Lawrence may have amazing vocals (previously heard with Bombay Bicycle Club) but they’re often lost under an array of electronic effects, and like her bandmates, she looks bored, even when thanking Gengahr for having them come out on tour.
The venue is filled to the brim and the excitement is palpable as tonight’s headliners take to the stage. A lush, triumphant sounding ‘Loki’ opens up proceedings, but over the course of the night, it’s tracks from debut album ‘A Dream Outside’ that get the most dancing.
Frontman Felix Bushe tells the audience that it’s their first headline tour before they slam into a beefier ‘Heroine’. You wouldn’t guess it’s their first - the group have an energetic confidence on stage, from guitarist John Victor’s madman ravings as he thrashes out riffs to Bushe’s sly grin from behind the mic. The band cut their teeth with relentless support slots, and it’s paid off.
The crowd, shouting its adorations, is mixed, skewing towards the young side: there are carbon copies of the Gengahr guys dotted around – Victor’s floppy fringe here, lookalikes of bassist Hugh Schulte’s baggy vintage shirt over there. The crowd adore Hugh – a few shouts sound like the standard “I love you” cries at any gig, but listen closer, and you realise they’re shouting the bassist’s name.
‘Embers’ gets one of the biggest cheers of the night, alongside ‘Powder’, which closes the main set with Bushe leaning into the crowd as he plays. ‘Dark Star’ – introduced as “more of a slow jam”, is another highlight, while the encore of ‘Lonely As A Shark’ and ‘She’s A Witch’ end the whole night on a real high.
A sold out Scala is a very special thing. From the main floor to the balconies, you can’t move for bodies. Gengahr will undoubtedly go on to play bigger venues, but tonight is a great night for all involved.
Photos: Carolina Faruolo