Live at The 100 Club, London 17/9/21
From The Rolling Stones to The Libertines, it seems that a riotous set on the sacredly sticky floors of London’s iconic 100 Club is a rite of passage for any band who wants to make their name in the indie sphere. If that truly is the case, PVA’s beautifully chaotic blend of post-punk techno is destined to flow out of speakers across the country in the next couple of years, with the London trio delivering an electrifying performance in the Capital.
The brainchild of Ella Harris and Josh Baxter, with the pair meeting when the latter was working on the door for a gig that Harris had organised, the trio released their debut “Divine Intervention” in the late stages of 2019. The inaugural release set the tone for PVA’s future output: like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Imagine if Ian Curtis and Kraftwerk (after one too many Becks’) conceived a lovechild. With rumbling synth lines rolling like thunder throughout, the track is topped with simplistic and bluntly delivered lyrics. Playing the 350-capacity show as part of Fred Perry Subculture’s “All Our Tomorrows” festival, the city’s most bohemian and best-dressed youngsters flocked to Oxford Street for a night of fluorescent lights and free-flowing alt-dance.
With little pomp or grandeur, the London trio strolled onto the stage, greeted by subtly warm “woops'' from the 350-strong crowd and opened their jamboree of techno beats matched with snarling quips of lyrics. Beginning with unreleased track “untethered”, the tone was aptly set for an engrossing set, before bounding into debut single and biggest hit “Divine Intervention''. The track first released by label Speedy Wunderground, an up-and-coming label with the capability of being the Factory Records of our times, the track is a comforting discombobulation of the guitar-led music that gave the 100 Club its name. Yet, a small sweatbox is the perfect setting for a track like “Divine Intervention”, with its reverberations filling the tight room until it seems to explode, like fizz in a lager can. This, in many ways, is a melodramatic and unnecessarily figurative description of exactly what live music should be. The momentum generated by PVA’s debut single was maintained by hit “Talks”, a track which has been remixed by Mura Masa, whose other collaborators include Slowthai and ASAP Rocky. Not a bad company to be in. Whilst it may not have the infectiousness (in my opinion) that “Divine Intervention” seems to possess, the track slowly evolved into what I can envisage being an “I was there” moment in a few years.
We talk about “escapism” in music an awful lot, almost to the extent that it becomes a cliché. Yet, admittedly with the help of a couple of cheap pints of Becks, it was as easy as anything to drift off and become lost in the hazy vocals of Harris and Baxter. For an hour or so, nothing else seemed to matter: not the football scores or the dreadful cabinet reshuffle. It takes a certain “something” for a band to make 350 people transcend into a world of synths and drums, swaying from left to right with heads bobbing up and down- like the flags during a windy Glastonbury set. Whatever that “something” is, which thousands of artists would love to discover, PVA certainly has it.
With dance music ruthlessly dominating the charts, whilst post-punk is having a renaissance in certain spheres, maybe it’s time a band can finally bridge this gap. Mark my words: if anyone is going to do that, it’ll be PVA.
P.S. I’ve got through the whole review without making a clumsy joke about PVA glue or other adhesives. Let’s hope I can stick to that in other features.