Every bit as invigorating as their name suggests, Holy Fuck provide a compelling live show, writes Vincent O’Boyle.
A crowded Academy watches as Holy Fuck’s supporting act, Halfset, finish their engrossing set. Their interesting fusion of electronica and live instruments, ranging from guitar to glockenspiel to trumpets, manages to keep the chatter that plagues support acts to a bare minimum.
Almost as soon as they’ve vacated the stage, Holy Fuck stroll on to check their equipment, the complexity of which would terrify your average roadie. Two tables are set up facing each other at the front of the stage. Various keyboards line the side of the stage. One of them, the length of a ruler, is in fact, a child’s keyboard.
There is one item that stands out amongst the mass of wire, effects, pedals and keyboards. It is a 35mm film synchronizer. It is later revealed that this is the Holy Fuck version of a turntable, producing almost identical scratching sounds as the film is pulled through the synchronizer.
This is typical of the Holy Fuck method of eschewing common electro-techniques. The band was reportedly set up to make modern electronic music without the use of laptops and programmed backing-tracks.
Holy Fuck walk onstage to a rapturous roar from the audience. They wave nonchalantly and launch straight into ‘The Pulse’, one of the standout tracks from their most recent and acclaimed second album entitled LP.
The band is very tight and performs flawlessly. The rhythm section is exceptional as they create a solid sonic platform for the two core members Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh to weave their effects in and out of.
Holy Fuck performs with an instinctive confidence that comes only with experience. Experience that was undoubtedly gained from playing over 130 shows already this year.
‘Royal Gregory’ is a definite highlight with its distorted vocals that are reminiscent of the similarly brilliant ‘Battles’. ‘Super Inuit’ featuring crashing cymbals and crowd favourite, ‘Milkshake’ are other highlights.
The absence of a lead singer adds to the power of the music, as there is nothing to distract from the lo-fi soundscapes that the band craft effortlessly. At times they even sound like My Bloody Valentine.
Unusually for an electronic gig there are numerous and long pauses in between songs as members switch instruments and plug in cables. It’s frustrating for the audience because momentum is frequently lost. This results in more people head bopping than dancing and it also demonstrates what the band have had to sacrifice to make their complex brand of electronic music.
Holy Fuck also seemed to have lengthened a few of their songs, which sap some of their strength. This is a far cry from their frantic set in the new bands tent at Oxegen in July.
The crowd participation is not lost on the band, who play the rest of the song with huge grins on their faces before retiring backstage. To everyone’s relief they return again to play three more songs including the fantastic ‘Safari’.
In all, the sound level of the gig was too low, the band never dropped out of their comfort zone and there were too many pauses. However the quality of the music outshone all of these factors.