On a clear spring evening in the late of April, I make my way through a group of flimsy looking bananas lined up pissing against a wall, bellowing songs about their recent descent on the Otley Run, I scuttle past them and make my way down towards the Brudenell Social Club in Hyde Park.
Passing a house that I lived in a few years ago, I think about the importance that the Brudenell holds in its surroundings, not only being the beaming cauldron of creativity situated right in the centre of Hyde Park, but potentially the heartbeat of contemporary culture and creativity in Leeds. To locals of the Brudenell, it is a place of worship, whatever the day or time. An oasis of freedom to be whoever you want to be.
After a quick que to get in and a bag check from the security, I’m met by an array of students, a couple of denim jacket bowl cut spacers (who I presume are here for the gig), a handful of post-football fans, and, to my surprise, an assembly of bucket hats, sequinned dresses sporting LEDs, and colourful rave jackets slurping cans of Hooch. In the second room, a sold-out Rhythm of the 90s event is taking place.
That’s the beauty of the Brudenell social club. A tapestry of all walks of life merge together through socialising and music. The renovated working man’s club offers an inspirational environment, not only through the entertainment on offer, but through the familiarity of its relaxed working men’s club decor juxtaposed with well known acts in an intimate setting.
I mean a ‘Rhythm of the 90s’ event in one room and members of Animal Collective and Spacemen 3 in the other room. Impeccable…
Sonic Boom and Panda Bear are performing in the main room. Unfortunately, I miss Mary Lattimore, the support act for the evening, due to my inadequacy at catching trains on time. However, ‘Silver Ladders’ their 12th studio album, soundtracked my unhinged journey within the disarray towards the venue. An album, nor artists I have previously heard before, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ambience of the record. ‘Sliver Ladders’ an album recorded and produced by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead, provides a dark and wandering narrative with such stillness that amplifies the mundane suspenseful ambience. It is truly beautiful. A perfect selection to open up the show.
Within the misty silhouette-filled room, a computer augmented spiked sphere looms vacantly on stage before folding into fluorescent tubes seeping purple, green and yellow, metamorphosing into the artwork of the 2022 album ‘Reset’ upon the backdrop. An eager, sold out crowd ponders until Sonic Boom and Panda Bear grace the stage and take to their sound stations.
The crowd is welcomed into the warm, fun intergalactic sounds of ‘Gettin’ To The Point’ and ‘Go On’ the opening tracks of the album ‘Reset’. Panda Bear (stage left) and Sonic Boom (stage right) share vocal harmonies that tangle into one another, creating fluid melodic waterfalls that wash within the pulsating, hypnotic carousels of Sonic Boom.
The relaxed dual vocals and synchronised claps emulated from the stage tap into Panda Bear’s Brian Wilson-esque harmonic rollercoasters that exhibit his genuine craftsmanship of transforming experimental sounds into melodic song structures that you can dance and sing along to.
Sonic Boom took the vocal lead on the third track, ‘Everyday’ while simultaneously playing a variety of almost child-like miniature trumpets and whistles as Panda Bear’s perfectly timed backing vocals elevated the track from the bounding synthesisers. The track blended perfectly into ‘Edge of the Edge’ which showcases Panda Bear’s distinct and authentic Animal Collective vocal styles while Sonic Boom’s deep 50s-inspired cabaret quartet-style backing vocals plod the track on.
The otherworldly tribal-like vocals and pure immersive whirlpool loops transport me out of the venue, electrifying my mind as time stands still. I fall into a state of thought that is so deep that I am rudely interrupted by biting my tongue and chewing on a fisherman’s friend that I forgot I had put in my mouth.
A vacant circus of tropical madness is born when ‘In My Body’ begins. Minimal synth loops are propelled by Panda Bear’s jellified swirling vocals that bend precariously, projecting a voice that’s drifting from within and locked inside a body. An imitation of the birth of a new life form and reality. Panda Bear’s harmonic drones and soundscapes bear a similar resemblance to John Michael Stipe’s of R.E.M.
‘Whirlpool’ unveils Sonic Boom’s Spacemen 3 synth wizardry as Panda Bear provides vocal loops that weave into the stuttering and glimmering sounds. As the synchronised spotlights wander on the stage, Sonic Boom’s drink wobbles on a stand by his side while Panda Bear clenches the microphone eyes tight shut.
The whole performance is chaperoned by a computer augmented silver backing dancer projected onto the wall behind the stage modifying and rebuilding itself into the soundscapes.
‘Reset’ is a perfect collaboration between two artists you’d probably never think to put together, but now that you have it, it all makes perfect sense. The aggressively analogue sound and classic 60s pop songwriting provides a warmth and fun that offers a truly relaxed soundtrack for a hot summers day.
The set-list follows the album track-list from start to finish. The 5-track encore showcased both artists previous work, including Sonic Boom’s ‘Just A Little Piece of Me’ and ‘Things Like This (A Little Bit Deeper)’. And Panda Bear’s classics ‘The Preakness’, ‘Comfy in Nautica’ and ‘Tropic of Cancer’.
The crowd trips out of the venue, wide-eyed, looking utterly hypnotised and discussing what they’ve just witnessed as steam radiates off them into the abyss of the post-dancers from the other room, while across the road, families settle down to watch TV in their living rooms and put their kids to sleep.