Here at DIY, we like to think of our annual Hello… showcase as a must-see in the January calendar for London-based new music seekers. Over four weeks of gigs in partnership with Shoreditch’s Old Blue Last and state51, it’s a chance to catch the festival-slayers and radio mainstays of tomorrow in their earliest stages (and you can rewind back to early shows from Wolf Alice, Dream Wife, Black Honey and more over the years for proof).
Kicking down the door of 2024 for the first night of the run, hefty whacks of noise to blast the Christmas cobwebs away are the order of the day, starting with Bristol’s Mould - a tempo- changing trio that nod to elements of Squid-like songcraft but with a heavier, gnarlier edge. A mid-set highlight, entitled (we think) ‘Brace’ takes a liberal approach to left-turns, while their lone released single ‘Birdsong’ twitches along with far more raucous chutzpah than the mellow twittering of its namesake might suggest.
Having bolted over from a BBC Radio1 session to make it just in time for their set, Londoners C Turtle are in the throes of A Big Week. Mere hours away from announcing their debut album ‘Expensive Thrills’, there’s justifiable excitement around the quartet and tonight’s set of simultaneously tight-but-ramshackle lo-fi rock is proof of why. On new single ‘Shake It Down’, co-vocalists Cole Flynn Quirke and Mimi McVeigh trade lines with the howling vs deadpan duality of Pixies, while there are touches of Pavement and The Moldy Peaches to the idiosyncratic way they approach their craft.
Fast forward a mere thirty minutes, and it’s in allegiance with a different section of the ‘90s that Dublin-raised SPIDER is spinning her web. Encouraging the crowd to call out the names of their “shitty exes” during one song, and preceding ‘Straight Out The Oven’ with an explanation about “wanting to be hot, and for the most toxic person in the world to validate you”, there’s a sassy spirit to the singer’s punk-pop wares that brings to mind Gwen Stefani in No Doubt’s early prime. There’s an important message beneath much of SPIDER’s cheeky, fun surface, however; born to Nigerian parents, the space given to Black women in rock is still notably minimal. By the time she concludes with ‘AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL’, asking that “if you leave with anything from the show, it’s to tell bigots to go fuck themselves”, it’s clear she’s a young voice that can do both.
Like Confidence Man had they grown up on a diet of nu rave, tonight’s headliners Shelf Lives are prime candidates to resurrect the golden age of indie sleaze for a new generation. There’s plenty of brilliantly bratty spirit from Toronto-born vocalist Sabrina Di Giulio, while guitarist Jonny Hillyard is her vest-toting foil; a girl-boy duo in the great tradition of them, whose mix of energies perfectly complement each other. While Hillyard is manning the fort on stage, Di Giulio spends the vast majority of her time in the crowd, inciting dance pits to the Peaches-like ‘Off The Rails’ and ‘Skirts & Salads’. There are some unfortunate technical issues mid-set but the pair style it out like pros; “We normally play perfect gigs but we thought they were boring,” deadpans the singer. If there’s one thing you can say about Shelf Lives, it’s that boring they most certainly are not.