Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Sat 20 Apr
words: HELEN LOCK
Going to a gig when you don’t know the band is a risky business. Get it wrong and you’re potentially stuck standing in a room for a few hours with your mind wandering to what you’re currently missing on TV. When I was offered the chance to go along to see the band Winter Villains perform at their album launch, I jumped at the chance, because I thought I knew who they were. As the day came closer though, I realised it was actually another band I was thinking of. Oh well, a chance to see some nice twinkly indie pop, I reasoned. With no expectations whatsoever, I turned up at Chapter Arts Centre on a warm Saturday evening, ambivalent about the night ahead.
After support from the lovely acoustic sounds of Joel Harries (and the most beautiful guitar I’ve ever seen), on came Winter Villains. Consisting of five core members, who all sing and play instruments, and one violinist (who, as I’m reliably informed by their Facebook group is part of a “rotating cast of string musicians”), there was no introduction, and the band launched straight into their first song.
Well. I hate to use a cliché, but I was blown away. Accompanied by a constantly moving backdrop of forests and other images from nature, the music transported you straight into some sort of epic film soundtrack. The incredible mix of instruments and vocals were polished to perfection, with the end result sounding like it could almost be a recording. Each member seemed so engrossed in the music they were creating individually, but at the same time all in tune and aware of each other. There was none of the usual chat between songs either – does anyone really enjoy that awkwardness from the lead singer? – which meant the audience were able to hear the album in its entirety, exactly as it was intended to be.
This was truly experimental orchestral music with a touch of indie at its absolute best; if a band can sound this good on the release of their first album then the future looks very bright indeed.
Find out more about the band and purchase the album here.