BLOODYWOOD // LAKE MALICE // LIVE REVIEW // THE FLEECE // BRISTOL
It may officially be ‘spring’ in the UK but that doesn’t stop the grey skies/clouds from shedding their contents onto the two large queues forming outside of the venue tonight. Those doors aren’t opening until bang on 7:30 pm and until then, the only music to be heard is the tinkling of large raindrops pelting the metal sheep and signage that adorns the front of The Fleece. Once inside it’s a rush to cloakrooms to peel off sodden outer layers accompanied by Nu-Metal tracks being pumped through the speakers. Soon enough though, it’s showtime.
There’s a brief pause before the sound fully kicks-in but the four musicians performing the live show tonight are throwing themselves fully into the set from the start, frequently changing stage positions by bouncing, leaping and crouching to make full use of the space. They are ready to work this cold, damp crowd and the punters are fully engaged with commands from bejewelled singer Alice Guala as she throws herself into the edgy Metal Hyper-Rock, transitioning from guttural shouty growls to melodic cleans within seconds. If you’ve only heard recorded music by this band so far, then rest assured both vocals and instruments translate to live-on-stage well (go see for yourself!) There is also the use of backing tracks, synths and spoken voice to convey the more electronic-dark side and also for some of the quieter vocal parts, this is particularly evident in the fourth song ‘Creepers’ where AG openly mouths along to certain lines with the mic held high above her head. However, this doesn’t detract from the impact of the live skills also being demonstrated; instead, it allows the full force of the songs to shine through. The room has a good vibe tonight and there are lots of smiles throughout the crowd as they lap up the Industrial bass drops and happily “get fucking rowdy” as instructed. A small pit enables the crowd to shuffle around a bit more (there isn’t much room in the venue tonight, it’s a sold-out show) leading to further surges of arm-swaying, head banging, and energy remaining high with even the photographers leaping to get those shots. It’s a great warm-up and as AG takes a moment to check in on how everyone is doing she is met with cheers. Guitarist Blake Cornwall switches to thudding extra beats on a floor tom during ‘Stop The Party’ and the collective bouncing and clapping rave is flowing. With the Bristol crowd bigged-up, a quick plug for the merch stall, a reminder to vote for their two nominated categories in the HMA’s and the obligatory band-with-the-crowd photo taken under house lights, it’s a happy wrap-up all around.
Speaking of high energy, Bloodywood are about to prove that they’re in a league of their own when it comes to stamina throughout a set. They waste little time assembling on the stage to many cheers from the crowd though these are hushed by percussionist Sarthak Pahwa initially, before rap vocalist Raoul Kerr casually enquires “What the fuck is up Bristol?” The insane energy sky rockets through both band and audience as their first song ‘Gadaar’ is unleashed! The groove and rhythm is pushed hard by drummer Vishesh Singh and bassist Roshan Roy. A quick check-in with the partygoers follows from vocalist Jayant Bhadula alongside a brief coaching about how not to sell your soul before ‘BSDK’ garners full-on sing backs and sees SP momentarily exchanging his dhol for a camera to capture some of the action.
There’s no denying that Rap-politics form the pillars of this band and it’s a mighty sturdy structure. The songs have deeply charged messages but these are hammered home in such a way that the anger sitting behind the words seems to transmute into well-controlled weapon of collectively stubborn positivity throughout the venue. There’s a feeling of winning as the band comment on how “Dreams are meant for today” and this is proven by the sheer fact that this independent band from New Delhi, India are here on stage today; they made this happen. This gives an added essence of accomplishment to the flute intro start of ‘Aaj’ and further powers up the pit for the brutal Metal that it seamlessly fuses into. A vast amount of care and dedication has obviously gone into this set but everything about the performance feels natural and effortless; Karan Katiyar’s smooth switching between flute and lead guitar; the blending of Folk with Metal; the unhindered and unstoppable dancing about the stage, it all pays off with incredibly willing crowd participation. These musicians aren’t afraid to dive deep into sensitive topics but each song is given a careful introduction and delivered with a sense of empowerment that is reflected in the fist pumps and claps of the crowd. There’s an especially impressive growl that emanates from JB during ‘Machi Bhasad’ and the bouncing intensifies with the return beat. There are occasional quiet moments between songs but Bloodywood are good at keeping the crowd whipped up and interested and there are many unprompted chants of “Bloo-dy-wood!”
JB thanks everyone attending the gig as well as every member of the crew by name (drivers, TMs and sound engineers included) and thanks Bristol for being “fucking fantastic” right before RK announces final song ‘Ari Ari’ stating that “Bristol knows that diversity is a gift” whilst JB and SP seize the opportunity to join the dance floor pit – dhol held high when jumping! – Shouts for “more” are rewarded with an equally energetic encore leaving just enough time for a band-with-crowd photo and fist bumps before Bloodywood exit stage leaving a contented and fired up crowd heading for yet more merch.