Demob Happy & Sœur Live @ House of Vans – London

House of Vans has become one of my favourite venues in London. The graffiti-filled tunnels under Waterloo and the history of Vans apparel and its rock star status add to the atmosphere of the concerts which the venue hosts. “Sessions” is becoming a monthly slot in the House of Vans’ calendar. Its goal? To showcase up-and-coming talent. On a warm July evening, Brighton-based grunge rockers Demob Happy, supported by Worcester grunge trio Sœur, took to the stage in the up-close-and-personal tunnel no. 2. 

As DJ Eddie Temple Morris set the tone with tracks spanning across rock, grunge and punk, fans began to fill the tunnel. Anya Pulver, Tina Maynard & James Collins, better known as Sœur, kick off the night in spectacular fashion. They open with ‘Put You On’ from their What Separates Us EP which stirs into life with a simple, clean and catchy hook and develops into a dark and heavy stomper. Guitarists and vocalists Anya and Tina stick to detuned heavy riffs which make up for the lack of bass guitar. On ‘No Fire’ their raucous energy which manifests into full-on headbanging causes Anya to get her long her caught on Tina’s guitar’s headstock. This momentary blip of slapstick adds to the entertainment within what is a mishap-free set.

Sœur have great musical chemistry and aren’t afraid to interact with fans. At one point Anya walks up to a man in the front row, fondles his beard while singing and then wanders into the crowd. They play their EP in its entirety and the rest of their set is comprised of new material all of which employ their winning formula.

By comparison, Demob Happy are a testosterone-fuelled mixture of scintillating grunge and[description]. Their set is not without its problems, the most immediate being troublesome strings on guitarist Adam Godfrey’s Les Paul. The same note snaps on two different songs! In both situations, it’s the ladies of Sœur who jump to the rescue by replacing the string with heat-of-the-moment lightning speed.

Guiat trouble aside, Demob’s set is precise and explosive. Their new single and our Track of the Week ‘Dead Dreamers’ stands out as their most accomplished song to date. Mind you, as far as their devoted fans are concerned, it’s all good stuff. You could feel the anticipation before they’d even played a note; the deep football hooligan-style shouts of “Deeeemob!” reverberating around the room.

There were a few of us in the front row who took the opportunity to get some shots with our phones and cameras. A common occurrence at concerts these days. But as Demob’s set grew ever more explosive I knew my time in the front row was done for the night. The raw aggression in drummer Tom Armstrong’s (a great name for a drummer by the way) eyes showed he needed to connect with his ardent supporters. When you’re playing songs like ‘Young & Numb’ and ‘Dream Soda’ you need the cycle of passion between band and fan to really make the song fly.

Expect more great things from Sœur and Demob Happy in the near future.

Demob showed resilience in the face of problems and gave their fans a show they’d never forget. By the end, they were body surfing amongst the crowd following a raucous finale which prompted security to move from the perimeter and into the mosh.

However, for me, the stars of the show were Sœur. They delivered the perfect warm up set which offered captivating harmony, intense headbanging and wonderful riffs. They also showed fantastic initiative and musicianship when Adam was in trouble; first lending him a guitar and then twice replacing the string on his guitar. This was a nice snippet of the struggle and resolve of touring.

Expect more great things from Sœur and Demob Happy in the near future.

Noteworthy Details

Intimate gig in an awe-inspiring venue
Two bands with great energy
Both showed resilience in the face of live performance adversity
Sœur displayed impressive musicianship.



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Demob Happy

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