Gig Review: The Wytches – Newcastle Riverside

Three years ago, Brighton based (via Peterborough) surf rockers The Wytches bestowed upon the listening world Annabel Dream Reader. Overseen by former Coral band-member Bill Ryder Jones, the debut delivered an expert exhibition in colossal guitar work, shrieking vocals and sinister lyrical imagery.

Fast forward to 2017 and there has been quite a few developments. Not in in terms of personnel and equipment, but a subtle difference in attitude and overall sound of the band. Early contributor Mark Breed joined the band permanently ahead of sophomore effort All Your Happy Life in the form of another guitar, allowing for The Wytches to blossom into a more expansive outfit.

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As The Wytches arrive at Newcastle’s historic Riverside on the eve that has seen the North East fully engulfed into winter storms. The Wytches plunged the audience into a sonic assault more fierce as anything the weather could muster.

With the decibels already wreaking havoc as a fuzz pedal is kicked on, the four-piece offer no respiratory preparation as ‘Gravedweller’ flies out, signaling a squall of carnage. Throughout certain points of proceedings, you kind of realise that, on the horizon, is a much-needed grunge revival. The minute a scene is labelled as dead, it flares up somewhere else. The great thing about youth is that it never plays by the rulebook, it plays by its own rules and The Wytches are no exception.

In a flurry of hair and guitar convulsion, the band shows no sign of let up with their sonic battering. ‘Who Rides’ and ‘Ghost House’ is a glorious raucousness that threatens to finish what this winter storm started and take the venue’s roof clean off. The garage riffs are reminiscent of early Nirvana but with a more focused energy and output. This is the things about The Wytches, among all the noise and chaos, they are extremely focused on the task at hand and perform it beautifully.

While so many bands from similar genres have either imploded due to a multitude of reasons or replaced by superior peers, The Wytches are undoubtedly here to stay. They’re not here to just make an appearance either. As tight as any live rock band money can buy today and twice as dangerous, it’s heartening to watch the rise of one of the most promising bands nestle themselves into a deserved spot on the table.

Further highlights were Wide at Midnight where lead man Kristian Bell arched beneath his long fringe to reach his mic with the perfect blend of plangency. ‘Crying Clown’ is illustrated with gloomy licks floating over super loose and low bass. Outside their surf substance, it’s not hard to not recognise influences such as The Doors and Smashing Pumpkins. A mixture of the rusticity of grunge and the unpolished glam of Marc Bolan and T.Rex.

‘Robe For Juda’ provides a change of pace, but no loss of energy, before a strict curfew brings the night to an end you suspect neither the band nor the crowd is ready for. But as short at the set might be, it showcases a band frighteningly on top of their game as they set off for another stint on the road.

Look out UK, The Wytches are brewing up a storm.

Words: Matthew Thomas

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