Brighton’s Bleeding Hearts Club relocated from the Rialto to put on a special all-dayer at Coachwerks, a community arts studio tucked away in a residential street in Hollingdean. We haven’t been here in years and going inside is like stepping into the past. The swirling liquid light show gives it the feel of a 60s psychedelic party, but the familiar faces on stage – not to mention the in-house vegan café and micro brewery – means we’re reminded more of Brighton as it was a decade ago.
Jason Pegg, of noughties Brighton rockers Clearlake, is on stage with his new project Hope In The Valley. Last seen depping for local pub rockers Fish Brothers, Pegg has found a new role as a harmonica player and pianist. Here he’s doing semi-discordant soundtrack jams with drums and cornet, while former Clearlake bandmate Sam Hewitt sits opposite making weird sounds on his iPad.
They’re followed by TAiL, another new band made up of musicians we’ve seen before in different guises: two members of Mum Dad & The Kids with The Crucks’ Jim Sanders on drums. The visual projections are a perfect match for this band’s Velvet Underground-style psych pop. The melodic vocals alternate with snippets of self-penned beatnik poetry cunningly masquerading as readings from a pulp fiction paperback. To complete the experience TAiL even have malfunctioning vintage gear.
Next we’re ushered to the other end of the L-shaped room for Ben Graham’s cryptic and caustic spoken word set. A busy wholefood shop forms an amusing backdrop to the poet’s middle class angst, while his Bowie-inspired piece on art and authenticity can’t fail to resonate given what’s gone before. A passing kid points to the poet’s microphone and politely asks him to “stop making noise with that thing”.
Back on stage, we see Porridge Radio & The Cosmic Sadness – their shouty, vigorous indie rock sounding fresh and chaotic, despite the excessive volume. The band are wearing ill-fitting white T-shirts printed with strange stage names, all of which would make for band names only slightly less ridiculous than their own: Mum Dog, Stinq Pup, etc. The five-piece are both tuneful and lo-fi and their final repeated refrain of “thank you for making me happy” ends up sounding so bitter and hurt it seems wrong to applaud, but we do anyway.
There’s more poetry over by the ‘wholefood stage’, this time with Sophie Brown whose snappy reflections on life are unpretentious and fun – while her tale of enviously eyeing early morning revellers comes off as surprisingly touching. Later on, Daniel Searle gets some big laughs with an utterly-droll spoken word set which starts with him examining the contents of his lunch and ends with a hilarious erotica story with nonsense words taking the place of the filth. The kids, who are running rampant by this point, love it.
The Trail Of Thomas Love, seemingly the only band from out of town, provide some tender and laidback alt-country; The Creaking Chair lay down some proggy guitar pop in keeping with the sixties theme, with some dynamic drumming from Ryan Bollard; while Dave Suit dons a Margaret Thatcher mask and gives out cotton wool ice creams for a reason no one can fathom.
There’s more performance art in store, however, as we soon realise when a man in a suit gets up on a chair and starts hooting on a trumpet. Xelis de Toro drags the chair around the venue, performing sweet old-fashioned songs with a series of comical facial expressions. Some earnest ssshhhing from the audience is quickly subverted when he starts conducting the crowd’s spontaneous noises into a kind of choir. It’s a silly moment, but everyone’s involved so it works perfectly in getting our attention.
Crayola Lectern then end the night with their special stew of piano-led psychedelic tunes, with Chris Anderson’s mournful playing accompanied by added trumpet (and other sounds) from the always sprightly and inventive Alastair Strachan. Crayola Lectern’s gorgeous ‘Slow Down’ and instrumental encore gives a warm glow to the ending of a grand day out in Hollingdean.
Coachwerks, Saturday 23rd January 2016
Words by Ben Bailey
Photos by Jon Southcoasting