In light of the recent Temples Festival cancellation, attendance for this show tonight has likely spiked, as London locals sack off the idea of Bristol in favour of seeing the mighty Jucifer at their local Camden boozer instead. It’s a sorry state of affairs but this show is anything but a consolation prize.
Swampmother get things underway; a relatively unheard of act in the world of metal, but most certainly not out of place either. The duo are packing attitude in spades with a grungy vibe that complements the catchy blues laden riffs and intense percussion of their performance. Their guitarist/vocalist exudes a cool confidence that is rarely seen in opening acts.
Another casualty of Temples, those that manage to make it down for Undersmile this evening are truly incredibly lucky, as the Oxfordshire four piece are one of the few bands from the fest who have not arranged a replacement gig. The band sit comfortably at a halfway point between the sounds that the likes of The Poisoned Glass and Monarch are producing – their dreamy, ambient passages are enough to both serenade and unsettle, while the tempestuous heavier moments hit hard enough to knock the wind out of you. Loud, jarring and utterly spellbinding. An Undersmile live performance really has to be seen to be believed.
Pulling back a sheet, Jucifer guitarist/vocalist Amber, reveals a stack of four huge amps – fair warning to all at the front to have the sense to wear ear plugs or get the fuck to the back. Every part of how the duo’s stage set-up is engineered tells of a band who are used to life on stage; from the sippy cups of water strategically duct taped to cabs to the baby oil Amber sprays on the neck of her guitar to prevent friction – everything is well prepared. Following a lengthy build up, the pair launch into a full frontal assault of neck slides and blast beats. The sonic effects vibrate up through the soles of your feet and into your scalp. Unfortunately, Amber’s vocals are drowned out by sheer volume for those stood at the front (they are audible from the back of the venue though, and sound suitably evil), however, the performance provided by both her and Edgar more than make up for this. When not contorting her body backwards while shredding, Amber is stalking the stage like a cat, while Edgar speeds through crash cymbal crescendos, double bass beats and snare hits at lightning pace, looking like a madman all the while. The energy given off by Jucifer this evening is infectious; an incredible stage presence to match an incredible sound.
(Review by Angela Davey)