Upcoming art rock band Youth Sector played a repeatedly up tempo set at Oporto in March. A visually striking band, it could only be wished that their performance had the same memorability as their aesthetics. Although this isn’t to say the band weren’t a fun and enjoyable outfit, their support acts left a much stronger impression after the show.
Oporto itself is a great intimate venue, reminiscent of americana themed bar you’d see in a Hollywood movie. Its charming atmosphere is the perfect environment for the more off-centre Leeds acts.
I was happy to say I had no idea what I was getting myself into with opener Volk Soup, which is the perfect situation for your first experience with them. Their performance began with vocalist Harry Jones playing a reminiscing ballad, accompanied by his own guitar playing. The rest of the band silently joined him on stage towards the end of the song and then proceeded to play a thrashy punky, cacophonic version of the sweet wholesome number that had just been performed. This moment stunned and set the precedent for the rest of their set. Their songs featured basslines clearly inspired by bands such as The Cure and The Clash, which really sold them for someone like me who isn’t too knowledgeable about the punk scene. A plethora of noisy and dissonant playing was clearly the objective for this band and it was something they executed well. One lyric that stood out was ‘Well call it what you want, we’ll call it ugly’ as it seemed like a fitting descriptor for the band in general. Volk Soup are unnerving, uninviting, and especially hostile, and that’s exactly what you’ll love about them.
WhoBodyHow were next, an archetypal indie band in every sense. Chorus heavy guitars and earworm guitar licks were present on every song. Their opener was very spacey, and possibly the first time I’ve heard a phaser combined with slide guitar on a song. The four-piece outfit has shades of indie from both the US and UK, with bands like Car Seat Headrest, Hers and Two Door Cinema Club bearing similarities. Lead singer, Milo, has a very impressive voice, with a growl that even rivalled the power of Kings Of Leon. The rest of the band were technically impressive too, managing to hold the attention of the crowd with their instrumentals. Tempo and meter changes were common in their songwriting, which injected energy into a few of their tracks. However, its repetition meant its impact declined and eventually felt like the band lacked confidence and were overcompensating. Overall, I enjoyed WhoBodyHow’s set. Despite feeling like they sticked too closely to the conventions of the indie genre, I’m looking forward to seeing what else they can come out with.
The headline band Youth Sector were last to perform and piqued interest from the moment they arrived. Dressed in distinctive yellow shirts and grey blazers, the art rock outfit grabs your attention straight away with punchy up-tempo songs, one after another. There is a clear ‘80s influence on this band, albeit in a contrasting way to how most modern artists interpret the era. Whereas pop superstars like Dua Lipa and The Weekend attempt to replicate the polished sound of synthpop, Youth Sector embrace the cheesiness of earlier pioneers such as Tubeway Army with vocalist Nick seemingly imitating the delivery of Gary Numan. Intriguingly, synths were pushed to the front of songs, with a screeching vintage creamy tone acting as a lead to the ensemble. On their more rock focussed songs, I could see a Strokes influence with spindly guitar tones and melodies. It’s safe to say that Youth Sector have a house sound, and the similarities between their songs appeared to be a drawback as their set lacked a divergence which harmed the pacing of their set. I’m happy to admit that Youth Sector just aren’t my thing, but if you like fast ‘80s inspired songs in a major key, you may have more fun with this visually distinctive band than I did.
Words by Harvey Duncan
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