Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Hunna - Thekla, Bristol, 26/09/2016

Image result for the hunna

I missed the beginning of The Night Café (thanks to the time for doors being wrong on the tickets - awkward!) but the part of their set that I managed to catch was brilliant. Sounding like a blend of Two Door Cinema Club and The Wombats, their ridiculously catchy songs were a great way to start the night. It's impossible to listen to them and not have fun, which makes them the perfect opening act, particularly when you hear the clear and unique vocal tone of their singer.
I'm not sure how many songs they played at the beginning of their set, but I managed to hear four tracks in full when I arrived.
I think the first of those four must have been a new and unreleased song, because I've been searching around their Soundcloud account and haven't managed to track it down. It's a shame, because it was the song that appealed to me the most: with its catchy hook exclaiming "I won't change with the seasons" it's certainly an appropriate song for this time of the year, with the nights getting longer and the temperature rapidly dropping.
Closing with 'Mixed Signals', a song that they only released a couple of weeks ago, didn't go down as well as the band were hoping. This could have been due to other attendees having the incorrect time for doors on their tickets, but the crowd for The Night Café was sparse and unenthusiastic when they encouraged the audience to clap along.
This time next year, a lot more people are going to have heard of The Night Café. Having recently supported Sundara Karma, as well as having this sod out run with The Hunna under their belts, tickets for their recently announced UK headline tour are going to be flying out.

Mixed Signals

The start of Blaenavon's set was a little bit dry, but by the end they'd transformed into a tornado of barely contained energy. Moving from 'Let's Pray' - a carefree and happy tune that wouldn't sound out of place on 'Made In Chelsea', directly at odds with the darkness of the lyrics, the chant of "Let's pray, let's pray, let's pray for death" - to the thrashing and relentless climax of 'Prague', Blaenavon sound like hardcore souls stuck in the body of an indie band.
It's going to be interesting to see which direction they choose to favour in the future, because at the moment the contrast is a little jarring - particularly in a live environment. The enthusiasm that they have for their music is palpable though, and when vocalist Ben Gregory whipped off his guitar at the end of 'Prague' and threw himself into the crowd it certainly showed how pumped they get during their live shows.
Having been together for four years, I'm surprised Blaenavon haven't gotten themselves more recognition in that time. Despite the fact that their music isn't cohesive it's definitely well-performed, and all three members are very talented musically. I hadn't listened to Blaenavon before this show, but they've cemented themselves on my radar now.

Hell Is My Head
Let's Pray
Orthodox Man
Take Care
I Will Be The World

After watching The Hunna's full set at Reading festival, I knew they were going to pull something special out of the bag for their headline tour. I hadn't anticipated that something being a sixteen song set in which they played their debut album 'The 100' in its entirety (even performing the four bonus +1HUNNA tracks).
Considering the fact that The Hunna have only been a band since last year, a set like this is impressive. It's unusual for a year old band to even have 16 songs, let alone have the stamina to play them all live. Add to that the fact that they have a fanbase demanding a live set of that length at this early stage (coming in at just over an hour), who are already so passionate about the guys that they know every word to the album they released a month ago, who raced to be the first at the merch table when vocalist Ryan Valentino announced the band were coming straight out to meet everyone after their set.
These four lads from Hertfordshire are inspiring a ridiculous amount of dedication in their fans (the self-proclaimed Hunna Squad). You don't often find bands that have this level of support so early in their careers, and it added to the sense of adrenaline in the room: every single person at this sold out show knew that they were experiencing the start of something. Just how big that something is going to get remains to be seen, but this time next year I think everyone are going to know the name of The Hunna.
I'm certainly not going to forget this set. From the moment their intro tape started playing - The Lonely Island's 'I'm On a Boat', cheesy but very well received  - the crowd didn't stop moving, singing and screaming (the latter spiking when Ryan decided to take his shirt off midway through the set, followed by the other band members at the start of the encore). Contrasting already popular songs 'You & Me' and 'She's Casual' with the stripped back 'Sycamore Tree' (my personal highlight of the evening) and the dance-centric 'Piece By Piece' (soon to be the next single), The Hunna showed that they're certainly jack-of-all-trades when it comes to tempo and style. Despite the fact that some of their songs are similar (opener 'We Could Be' with its lyric crooning about bonfires, and 'Bonfire' being, suprisingly enough, about bonfires, showing some repetitive themes in the lyrics) it's almost impossible to care when you're having this much fun.
The constant cries of "ONE FUCKIN' HUNNA!" got tiring towards the end of the set (imagine if One Direction kept screaming "Directioners!" or twenty one pilots took their time on stage to yell "clique!") and it's a quirk that I'm hoping is going to die a speedy death: it certainly shows their gratitude for their "squad", but it's irritating when it's inserted after every other song. For a band that are experiencing such a sharp trajectory, they're more humble than I'd expected they would be, taking the time to shout out to a girl at the very back of the room, check in with everyone on the balcony and thank anyone who purchased their album (which, in a ballsy or stupid move, they weren't selling at the show).
Finishing with a three song encore - ignoring the cries from the crowd for "one more song" - sent The Hunna off on a very high note. You'd think their energy would be starting to flag after being on stage for an hour, but thanks to their relentless touring schedule and constant festival appearances, this band are not so easily fazed. Bounding back onto the stage, Ryan easily got the crowd chanting along to the catchy 'Rock My Way' chorus (and I still have "are you gonna you gonna you gonna you gonna you gonna rock my way" cycling round my head today), and after the moshing subsided at the end of the song to ear splitting cheers, he shared "it's gonna be hard to beat Bristol". Vocalists normally say this at the end of every show - it adds to the competitive nature of the crowds - but after seeing a response like this I genuinely believe it'll be hard to beat. Bristol was only the third date on this 11 date tour, so I'm interested to see how crazy the crowds get later in the run.
Closing with 'Bad For You', which Ryan introduced by announcing "this is where the ship gets sunk", I was surprised that the set could get any crazier, but this band definitely know how to craft their setlist. I thought they'd peaked at multiple points, only for them to continue getting louder and more energetic.
With how far The Hunna have come in their first year, I wouldn't be surprised if they were selling out arenas by the time they were ready to release their second album. I don't know how they've done it, but they've managed to get an unprecedented amount of attention in their first twelve months. Here's to the second year.

We Could Be
Still Got Blood
You & Me
Never Enough
World Is Ours
Be Young
Piece By Piece
She's Casual
Sycamore Tree
Rock My Way
Coming Home
Bad For You

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