LIVE: RVIVR / Happy Accidents / Hurry @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds

By Tom Walsh

Every now and then, life throws up those unexpected surprises that make you think “hey, that’s pretty good”. Tonight’s entertainment in the homely DIY aesthetics of Leeds’ Wharf Chambers is a prime example.

Originally billed as a headline show for London three-piece Happy Accidents, a couple of weeks beforehand it was announced that Washington punks RVIVR would be topping the bill and everyone instantly thought, “hey, that’s pretty good”.

Not only would fans be getting a night with one of the rising stars in the UK pop punk scene, but also a very special performance from legends of the genre. This night is so good that one audience member has just come from spending three hours in Leeds Royal Infirmary prior to the show after inadvertently swallowing a cigarette butt.

Before all those fun and games begin, Happy Accidents have brought along Philadelphia indie trio Hurry who delight the audience with a charming set. The beaming Matt Scottoline balances self-deprecating humour with uplifting tracks that manage to strike the right tone with the slowly filling basement floor. 

In the past five years, Happy Accidents have slowly been growing a reputation as one of the must-see bands on the DIY scene. An infectious energy combined with hook-laden songs has provided a delicious recipe for pop punk success, and it’s no surprise that it caught the attention of Alcopop! Records.

Each member of Happy Accidents carries on Scottoline’s lead with grinning faces as they smash into opener ‘Wait It Out’. The trio bop around the stage as they rattle through a back catalogue of songs that tackle poignant – and currently relevant – topics such as confronting friends on political views, the social pressures to drink, and the general toxic environment we live in.

Every aspect of the performance is on point, from the intricate guitar work of Rich Mandell, to the controlled chaos of Phoebe Cross’s drumming, to the three-part harmonies provided by Neil Mandell. There is even time for Cross to smash the wrong button on the drum machine on ‘Nunhead’, only to be laughed off in the most appropriate fashion. There is time for the huge closing track of ‘Leaving Parties Early’ to lay down the marker for RVIVR.

In many ways, the surroundings of Wharf Chambers reflect the ethos of each of the bands on the bill. This community-run space is one of inclusivity, free from judgement and somewhere people can simply be themselves. It’s something not lost on guitarist Mattie Jo Canino, who explains how he feels at home in a venue such as this. “I feel I don’t have to explain myself in here, and that’s just great”; a beautiful yet somehow sad statement that we live in a world where someone who identifies as transgender can feel uncomfortable in a different setting.

However, the beauty of the punk scene in 2018 is that, even in divisive times, it will always be one that welcomes whoever you are with open arms. In saying that, RVIVR are here to make this one hell of a party. It is a frantic, intense and joyous set – from the rapturous ‘LMD’, the visceral ‘Wrong Way/One Way’, to the loving ‘Paper Thin’, it is a non-stop ride that encompasses everything that is wonderful about the genre.

Canino and fellow vocalist Erica Freas provide the perfect foil for each other. They interchange singing/screaming duties whilst almost entering Dueling Banjos territory as they swap guitar solos with willful abandon. Every note is lapped up by a sea of smiling faces until the thrashing ending of ‘Tiny Murders’.

As we file out, there is a consensus amongst the crowd – “hey, that was pretty good”.