Empty Pools Headline Third Neu ‘Hello 2014’ Show

London’s Old Blue Last hosts Empty Pools, Febueder, Ekkah and Two Jackals for a packed-out free gig.

After last week’s heaving, Honeyblood headlined Hello 2014 show, the series continues to hit its halfway mark. Tonight Bristol shapeshifters Empty Pools are here to top the bill, backed by Febueder, the very new indeed Ekkah and Brighton boys Two Jackals, who act as openers.

These guys arrive strapped in leather, black clothing being their evident big thing. The xx comparisons don’t come out of thin air. Musically their echoed, careering take on pop is made to ease, and stylistically they take a few notes out of the XL signing’s pages too. That’s on the surface. Dig deeper and the four piece progress to show a different side. It’s pitch black, sure, but it’s also loved up, like offering that special someone a rose made out of ashes on valentine’s day. Vocals are terse, muted to mimic spoken word. It’s not all broken hearts and miserable diary entries: The band meddle with atmospherics and abrasive noise like they’re in their hunting ground. Couples are smooching, not crying their eyes out.

There’s absolutely zero music ‘out there’ for Ekkah. No dodgy bootlegs, no self-professed demos. Just the name and the Birmingham location. Any quips that B-town is one big, all-encompassing thing that should basically be a genre are quickly thrown to one side here. There’s an East Coast, funk centric aesthetic being played out. It’s all about the muted riffs, the Chairlift-style strut of it all. Everything’s tightly wound, but it announces itself as gracefully as one of Dev Hynes’ love letters. One song in particular - all about being up until 7am, you know the score - loads about as many licks as Foals’ ‘My Number’. Maybe not the same level of punch, but it’s not far off.

Febueder slink on stage in a different state of mind. Their percussion-focused set sounds like it’s stepped right out of the Caribbean, sea shells stuck to its toes. Their ‘Soap Carv’ EP is showcased in full, with every note delivered via a shimmy and shake. There’s almost a soulful twang to the vocals, as they watch over constant structure shifts and clever turns. If Leeds’ Adult Jazz are being spoken about in hushed tones as the UK’s most know-it-all band since Wild Beasts, Febueder should be held in similar regard. Hailing from Ascot, they’re practically hopping fences from the second they step on stage. ‘Floppiness Tank’ employs crazed samples, coming off like a cross between Animal Collective and Battles, precision defined against frenzied yelps. It’s a special thing to witness.

If there’s a constant of Febueder’s set, it’s how tightly wound the whole thing is. They’re showing off by the end. Each instrument is deserving of its own solo, no matter how shameless. Empty Pools continue the trend. They’re technically astute, fine to a trim. Instead of highlighting their various strengths, however, they combine to produce something colossal. These guys are a unit and they intend to prove it, running through debut ‘Saturn Reruns’ with speed and intent. Every song ends abruptly, like it’s there to remind those in attendance of its extensive. Sharp darts of songs, this set explores so many tangents but it never meanders. Such is the quality - in capital letters - of their headline set.

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