LIVE REVIEW | Holydrug Couple/Dead Sea @ Espace B, Paris


(Dead Sea : photo – Johanna Audiffred)

Paris is already emptying out for the summer but fortunately there are still a few decent live shows dotted around for those of us who haven’t fucked off on holiday already, Espace B once again coming through with an off-season friendly between two of dream pop’s rising stars. Chilean shoegazers ‘Holydrug Couple’ are in town as part of their summer European jaunt and their presence has brought out a flock of devotees who mill around outside in the evening sunshine whilst hometown newbies ‘Dead Sea’ get things underway inside. Having ditched their original guitar-bass-drums set up for a sound propped up by twin banks of throbbing electronics the Parisians proceed to knock out a flawless display of cloud-hopping ‘Turbo Chillwave’ that hits the spot perfectly. For a band with one sole single to their name they’re impressively relaxed and natural, shifting effortlessly from warm electronica a la ‘Boards of Canada’ through to shimmering indie pop in the vein of the vastly underrated ‘White Poppy’.


Guitar lines break gently on the surface like bubbles in a champagne glass and vocalist Caro delivers a hypnotic performance pitched somewhere between Hope Sandoval’s intimate coo and the velvet-lined croon of ‘Beach House’s’ Victoria Legrand. They intersperse their songs with rushes of wave effects to keep the mood up and everything they do is cool, calm and confident – not bad for a band with only a handful of live performances under their belt. If they can transfer the quality of their live show onto vinyl when they record their debut LP later in the year they’ll almost certainly have a hit on their hands – as for now keyboardist Charles tells me they’re off surfing for the summer. One to watch, definitely.


(Holydrug Couple : photo – Johanna Audiffred)

‘Holydrug Couple’ have a tall order to follow that but thankfully they’ve come prepared for a challenge. The Santiago duo – rounded out to a four-piece for live duties – were picked up Brooklyn’s highly regarded ‘Sacred Bones’ records a couple of years back and their second LP ‘Moonlust’ which landed in May should see them graduate to the upper tier of today’s international shoegaze scene. Their sound takes on the widescreen thinking of ‘Primary Colours’- era Horrors but douses the flames with a generous infusion of weightless electro, Air’s blissful Virgin Suicides soundtrack emerging as a stylistic signpost. Any risk of it all getting too pink and fluffy are curbed by frontman Ives Sepulveda’s noodling guitar solos that are characterised by gorgeous tone as well as liberal abuse of his various effects pedals.


The boy’s not afraid to think big and I’d be willing to bet his parents had the odd LP by Zappa or Gilmour-era Pink Floyd knocking around the house when he was a nipper. The packed crowd lap it all up eagerly and we witness the emergence of what I’ve decided to term a ‘swirlpit’ – a congregation of transfixed female spectators front of stage cavorting like Kate Bush on an early 80s edition of Top of the Pops. Local hearts are won over yet there’s a lingering feeling that this could have been even better – the band’s multi-textured soundscapes are a challenge to reproduce live and between their swapping of instruments and frequent stage visits from the venue’s beleaguered sound man some of the momentum drains from what would otherwise have been a streamlined rush of sublime noise. As it is we leave nurturing the hope that we’ll get to see them top tonight’s performance as their star continues to rise and their swirlpit grows inexorably wider.


me in Vienna

John Sykes is a Paris-based noise enthusiast originally from Leeds, England. The bus route of his musical taste goes from blissed out euphoria to face melting catharsis stopping at various points along the way to admire the view. He blog’s intermittently at on music and he presents a weekly podcast called Indie500 Radio on Primal Radio which exposes the underground French indie scene.

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