Riding the buzz of their double EP, ‘Eight’, psych-pop rockers White Room played a sold out Hope & Ruin on the first night of their debut headline tour. On a cold Monday night, the band demonstrated exactly why they’re the hottest band in Brighton right now.
As the five-piece took to the stage amidst synthesised fizz, you could feel a sense of anticipation building as the voltaic intro climaxed into set opener ‘The Blue’. The were audience transfixed by the opening riff whilst the pumping synth hook of the chorus continued to hypnotise with its mind-bending sound.
Frontman Jake Smallwood worked up the crowd with fire in his eyes and a hunger in his belly. This was no ordinary occasion for the band; a hometown show on their headline tour was always going to be special. Needless to say, the band have nothing to prove tonight after the successful run of huge festivals this summer including Isle of Wight, TRNSMT and Reading Festival. If anything this was a statement of intent, and a glimpse through the door of what the future holds for White Room.
As second song ‘Tomorrow Always Knew’ hit the ears with its anthemic chorus “So let the sun rise, open your eyes into tomorrow”, the crowd were taken off to an unknown infinity by its dream pop melody. Set highlight, ‘Stole The I.V.’ kicks in with blue sky and clouds projected onto the backdrop of the stage, the reverb-heavy riff and mesmerising chorus surely destined for the terraces.
Half way through the set, the stage is drenched in red for latest single ‘Cannibal Song’, a playful number that takes the show somewhere else entirely. The mischievous song breaks down to bassist Josie McNamara’s voice and although brief, it feels momentous, the band immediately joining in to end the song on a guitar crescendo.
By this point, the audience is in the palm of Smallwood’s hand and the band launch into ‘Cable-Built Dreamland’. The song is gifted with a 60s style groove from Drummer Hen Sava, his beat akin to Roy Orbison’s ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’. The track is anything but however, and it’s here guitarists Tristan Sava and Jacob Newman’s musical kinship shines to produce something astonishingly authentic.
This is continued in ‘Twisted Celebration’ and followed by ‘Circles’ in which the disjointed rhythm of the song grips frontman Smallwood like a man possessed. The song has an energetic rhapsody to it, a side not seen in other tracks.
By set closer and oldie ‘Think Too Much’, the whole room is bouncing as the energetic crowd-pleaser kicks it up a notch, and when the Kasabian-esque singalong follows, the audience are elevated to new heights.
The set ends where it all began, a cataclysmic haze of feedback, as the band casually walk off stage. It’s been an impeccably rehearsed set tonight, complemented by a fresh and visceral performance from Smallwood.
It’s an exciting time for Brighton’s music scene given Royal Blood’s continued success, and as Tigercub and Black Honey continue their upward trajectory, it won’t be long until White Room follow suit.
The Hope & Ruin, Monday 27th November 2017
Words by Jack Fletcher
Photos by Ashley Laurence