LIVE: The Hara / Snayx / Call Me Amour @ The Garage, London

By Katherine Allvey

Two themes united the three bands on the bill on this springtime evening in North London.  Firstly, there was no ‘lead in’, no weaker or gentler act or even song to give you a momentary pause in emotion. You walk through the door and get slammed with the joy of a good old fashioned punk rock show before you even make it to the bar for an overpriced pint. Furthermore, all of the bands onstage deserve to be bigger than they are, and if the fates allow it they will be in the near future. 

Call Me Amour emerge first from the green mist like voguing mythical beasts. Somehow, every line in every song was a singalong.  ’Blackout’ is the sound of a beautiful revolt coming from beneath our feet, and in reality we’re in a half empty room in Highbury but in their heads and ours we’re floating through a CGI-heavy future city; a punk rock Coruscant. ‘Deeper’ is a sweet chemical eulogy to addiction, illuminated by electronic falling stars of phone lights shattered by splintering beats, and while Call Me Amour might be a modern evolved band, they’ve still got that rock n roll grip on your guts. 

Snayx are very Sleaford Mods, if the ‘Mods went ska then set their chequered vans on fire, or the Ordinary Boys downloaded into a Robot Wars Killbot body. The aural graffiti of their cover of The Prodigy’s ‘Breathe’ is a highlight, and the wine that frontman Charlie Herridge is chugging from the bottle must have been fuelling a tightness in performance regardless of the tempo of the song. When the revolution comes and some folks are up against the wall, Snayx will be the soundtrack.

A suited, postmodern devil appears onscreen as we wait for the slow, ‘downloading’ bar to fill on the Garage’s visuals to signal the entrance of The Hara. He’ll be there all night, sometimes talking to the band, the crowd or signalling for circle pits to erupt with a wave of his hand. It’s a strange artifice, but that’s part of the Hara’s live appeal. They are really very dramatic in their delivery, most obviously on punk-meets-Mike-Skinner anthem ‘We All Wear Black’; rather than laying their souls bare, they have dramatised their pain into a spectacle and their charisma immerses you into their world. Vocalist Josh Taylor, in his kilt and suspenders is Danzig’s elastic heir, constant kinetic and ready to snap. He flails through ‘Off The Edge’s constant defiance and daring before giving into a seamless transition when Zack Breen takes over vocals. In the studio, this song is all teenage rebellion and lashing out but live it’s poised, a seemingly choreographed channel of sentiment. ‘Fire’ is a  desperate exorcism of their own anger over punk shredding, anti pop excellence with old school metal drumming, and Taylor’s head seeming to spin like Linda Blair’s through most of the song.   

But when they slow down to wind up that musical spring, it’s magic. Taylor begins climbing like a gremlin over the walls of the Garage before abruptly stopping. “We’re changing our genre now, we’re a piano band….just gonna play a few soft tunes,” he says before he plonks himself at a piano, letting Breen unleash squealing Santana guitar riffs. There’s something so very bleak about the comedown into ‘Died In My Twenties’ as if everything that came before it was all a performance in a performance.  The home videos create an effigy of a lost past, and this song crashes the energy of the show off a cliff without losing any intensity. Following this with a “little cute song” (‘Circles’) is a genius move. With skills like these, The Hara could have devoted themselves to any genre, and ripping up our hearts with a song that seems like the sound of a tape cassette of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Wild Horses’ dropping down a well then sampling it works for them. The addition of a ukulele for ‘Off This Train’ is unexpected but we’re so lost in The Hara’s world by now that nothing can truly be unexpected. It’s simply stunning live, with Taylor’s spirit floating on a flimsy surfboard over deepest waters and for a moment there’s true vulnerability shown under their stage exploits.

Of course, the quiet interlude couldn’t last for long. ‘Talk To The Manager’ is much, much better live than on recordings. The mocking tone in the original is swapped for a call to arms against micro aggressions against identity, a reclamation of self against perceived insults. The band institute a mock prayer ritual before ‘Black Soul Ceremony’: there’s a lot of early Davey Havok in Taylor’s performance but with a spitting British energy, and when The Hara go big, they go huge. ‘Fool And The Thief’ (“Our biggest song!”) flips the stage and sound desk and has the potential for transforming into stomping, rootsy indie but here it’s a vast revival of faith in punk.  The steampunk nu-metal of ‘Animals’ concerned one punter who threw a paper plane onstage to defend their supermarket job, but for the rest of us, the mosh beat and the line ‘you look like shit and you’re working at Tesco’ tried to start a stampede out the zoo and into the wild. “Animals never play fair” and the Hara take no prisoners. 

The Hara are the kind of band that would set the world on fire if it stood still long enough to let them. The trio are immensely talented and absolutely put their heart and immortal souls into their music, and seem to be gathering more (well-deserved) fans by the day.  This was the kind of show that reinvigorates your love of punk and faith in what kind of fire and fury can be produced in the UK right now. The Hara are the future, and they’re coming for you.