After almost a year away, Dead Naked Hippies return home to Leeds to play a blistering and celebratory set that carries more than a few hints of bigger things to come.
I’m a recent convert to Dead Naked Hippies, becoming aware of the Leeds trio for the first time only a matter of weeks ago when they dropped brand new single Guillotine. Deeply impressed, I quickly delved further into the back catalogue of singles that the band have been releasing steadily since debut Light’s Out in 2016. It’s rare to be so instantly struck by a band’s sense of self-assurance, with each track oozing class and confidence as they teeter on a knife edge between raucous dissonance and melodic bliss. So when I heard they were all set to play a homecoming show at Oporto in Leeds, it was never an opportunity I was going to pass up.
To begin with a special mention needs to go out to tonight’s brilliant support acts in the shape of Hull’s La Bete Blooms and Mancunians Witch Fever, the latter of whom in particular leaving an impression sure to last as they threaten to upstage the main act, manically thrashing their way through a rip-roaring set of incendiary, spit-in-your-face punk rock.
Not to be outdone though, Dead Naked Hippies burst straight into ear-splitting life when they grace the stage shortly before 10PM, launching straight into a cataclysmic sonic assault of opener ‘Bury Me’. The fullness of the sound is hard to fathom when you consider the fact that their only using two instruments, with guitarist Joe Clark displaying a masterful control of noise, balancing pop riffs with screaming feedback in a manner Thurston Moore would be proud of.
It’s easy to see why there’s such a buzz building around this band. Frontwoman Lucy Jowett is electrifying from start to finish tonight, her diminutive frame proving no barrier to a huge stage presence that sees her holding the crowd through every moment, resulting in a palpable feeling of togetherness as the energy levels rise through each passing song.
Jowett’s vocal performance is flawless throughout, at times soulfully beautiful amongst the merciless din, at others becoming its focal point, a piercing blade of untamed, cacophonous shrieks. In Jowett Leeds may well have found its answer to Karen O.
This is a band who obviously take huge delight in what they do, with the band members feeding off each other throughout, never more apparent than during centrepiece and set highlight ‘Guillotine’, the intensity and emotive energy of which threatens to shatter Oporto’s cramped walls.
By the time we reach set-closer ‘Light’s Out’, Oporto almost resembles an unhinged, psychotic love-in that sees Jowett and Clarke clamber on to the PA system and let loose like twin jet engines before Jowett leaps into the audience, swaggering through as the crowd parts down the centre like some twisted royal procession.
The whole set carries a feeling of triumph, with every indication that this is a band in ascendency, the sound and skills honed to a point where they are ready to announce themselves on the national stage. I can’t recommend them enough.