Tiny Ruins/2:54/Arc Iris/Bernard+Edith
Photography By Charlie Whatley
We arrive at Union Chapel to realise that we’ve missed the only band we really wanted to see. Bernard + Edith have departed but there’s a girl on stage in a gold jumpsuit so things could be alright. Sometimes in life you miss out on the things you want because you’re drinking cheap beer and eating dirty onion rings at Wetherspoon’s. Still, we made it into the beautiful surrounds of Union Chapel in time to see three of the recent signings Bella Union are parading. Post-festival season it’s hard to care about any music at all but at least here the place is dry, warm and has wonderful acoustics.
The band with the catsuit singer are Arc Iris, led by Jocie Adams, formerly of The Low Anthem. The ensemble showcases their musicianship with tight arrangements and glorious harmonies, all of which suit the venue perfectly. The crowd is lulled, lining the pews and allowing themselves creeping smiles as the show reveals itself. I understand it’s complexity and I’m sure it has grand appeal but I feel nothing. My girlfriend, however, loves it (but she does like Ben Howard).
Arc Iris fail to move me at all, but that’s probably because I’m a grumpy cunt concerned with the tyranny of the West and twee tunes just aren’t my favourite. Between bands we wander the venue, it’s courtyard and alleyways, recalling the last Bella Union party we attended here, where MONEY and GREAT WAVES were on the bill being all majestic and full of the right kind of energy. It’s at this point we remember the real perk of this venue is that they serve tea.
We gather brews and biscuits and take a pew whilst our photographer Charlie creeps around the darkness like a cat, getting the faces in the crowd and framing the show perfectly. We lose him for some time to Hannah Thurlow, of 2:54, whom he pays particular attention to, because he’s a professional. I eat a Tunnock’s Caramel and drink my tea. 2:54 bring some groove and brooding drama but it mainly provides nice background to a lovely sit-down rather than being overly stirring. Maybe it’s the venue. Or maybe it’s me.
The moody bass gives me space to think, so I mainly write about knowing your enemies and oppressors and avoiding becoming a victim of the State. Here we are, existing in the margins created for us, pissing about within our frame of art, wondering how best to focus our energy. Oh, and Scarlet sounds pretty impressive after maturing for a couple of years. We head to the bar above the church for some booze in the eaves. Is that Little Boots at the bar? Probably. Remember when we were told she was important?
The battle of frontwoman theatrics tapers off slightly with Tiny Ruins, as the twee is turned up a bit. We hear stories and experience songs but it’s all quite personal without being immersive. Maybe I’m beyond help, or maybe these bands are just pretty bland. I didn’t have to see Bernard + Edith to know they’re the most exciting band on the line-up, but that’s not to say all of these people aren’t great musicians. We head into the night to drink, happy with an evening spent taking in gentle, beautiful things.