by Becca Montante
Temples wrapped up their North American tour during Halloween weekend at Brighton Music Hall, bringing their melodic English psychedelic rock and mildly ghoulish face paint to Boston. Amid a chaotic sea of costumed party-goers outside, the smallish crowd inside the hall buzzed after an opening set by the equally psychedelic project, Vinyl Williams.
Self described as “transcendental pop”, the group formed as a music endeavor of frontman Lionel Williams in LA. The band brought a refreshing wave of organic, but well calculated tunes to the ears of the eclectic audience. Throughout the set, there was, at any point, a different mishmash of FM synthesis, oddly metered time, and a whole lot of jam. Melodies soared and dipped, perfectly encapsulating the feel and sentiment of the overtly psychedelic genre, but at the same time, carefully crafted to incorporate hints of world music, math rock, and even some jazzier qualities. The highlight of the performance was the drumming, where it was clear that the pulse and rhythm of Vinyl Williams was kept well in check the whole night. Vinyl Williams are signed to Chaz Bundick’s Carpark Records and have recently released a new album, Brunei – look out for them moving forward.
Temples opened with “Colours to Life,” one of my personal favorites off of their current album, Sun Structures, the mysterious guitar melody and catchy refrain of which provided a good amount of intrigue for an introduction to the band’s set. Following that was “A Question Isn’t Answered”, recognizable almost immediately by its ¾ time measured clapping, prompting some audience members to knowingly clap along. The song felt almost simplistic at its start with a constantly looping beat and vocal rhythm, but things picked up as soon as the band brought in the deeper, grimier, guitar that kicks in at the break in the song, which got some dancing and jamming going from the crowd. Something that struck me was how much less heavy and fuzzy these songs sounded live when compared to their studio versions, but the lack of distortion was refreshing, especially on the new songs, which had clearer sounding melodies as a result. Having only released one song off of their new album “Volcanoes”, set to be released in March 2017, Temples composed the setlist of mainly “Sun Structures” songs with two unknown songs sprinkled in and by surprisingly closing with an EP song from a couple years ago, “ANKH”. It felt like the band performed particularly successfully towards the middle end of the show with one of their strongest tracks, “Move with the Season”, whose slower pace and cascading guitar felt very enveloping and atmospheric, a strong force of sound raining down. James Bagshaw’s lead vocals were showcased perfectly, with smooth high notes that were a perfect top layer to all of the sound. This song really showed how powerful Temples can be, it was definitely hard to resist rocking out to this one. The band saved their new single “Certainty” for one of the closing tunes, the large amount of synth and slightly poppier vibe is a bit different for the band and somewhat reminiscent of Tame Impala’s 2015 “Currents” release, both in terms of a different musical direction and less dependence on strong psychedelic guitar riffs. This seemed to be a common thread between all three of the new songs the band played, which seemed to generate less of an enthusiastic audience reaction, but definitely not for their lack of catchiness. By the end of the set, the majority of the audience just stuck around, continuing to cheer and clap for more songs. Eventually, just when it seemed as if it wouldn’t happen, the band complied and came back on the stage for an encore, pulling out crowd favorite “Shelter Song”, which *really* got people to their proverbial feet. Extending the end of the next song “Sand Dance” until the buildup got so increasingly intense that it was almost too loud to bear, it felt like the band members left it all out on the stage for the encore. The Temples played an overall strong and clearly well-rehearsed set, but if they could inject the same amount of confidence and headbanging they brought to the stage for the encore earlier on in the show, they would be more even more next level.