Discomfort and insecurity found it’s niche on Scala’s stage on Wednesday night, as HIDE and The Soft Moon both flourished under the venue’s smoke and strobe lights. With a sound and a stage set-up reminiscent of the likes of Nine Inch Nails, The Cure & Fever Ray, both bands performed an intense and manic set, fueled by the attention of their captivated crowd.
Opening duo HIDE were a force to be reckoned with. Together, Seth Sher &
Heather Gabel create clear, vital, smothering waves of industrial electronic sound. Gabel’s warped but powerful vocals were accompanied by hair flicks and body spasms, which made for compelling viewing. She took barely a breath between songs, but the audience applauded anyway, as she stylishly staggered through the smoke and strobes with perilous purpose. Tracks like ‘Close Your Eyes’ – taken from HIDE’s debut album Castration Anxiety – echoed around the venue with angst-ridden intensity. Despite knowing only a handful of tracks, we were hooked from start to finish.
Headliner The Soft Moon (aka Luis Vasquez) delivered his most powerful set to date in the capital this year. His clear vocals, and the raw energy of his live band kept the set flowing seamlessly from track to track. Highlights included ‘Criminal’, the title track of his latest album, as well ‘Like A Father’ – the sound of which we can’t get out of our heads. Whilst his performance supporting My Bloody Valentine at Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival earlier this year was compelling, The Soft Moon’s music is best appreciated in an intimate venue like Scala. The accompanying light show made it all the more fascinating; amidst flashes, spotlights, and strobes the crowd happily jumped around to ‘Burn’ and ‘Choke’, and Vasquez fed off their fire.
Despite the complex and often tortured nature of The Soft Moon’s songs, there was no self-flagellation in his delivery on stage. Vasquez performed tracks from his earlier records with the same energy as his latest work, and his confident, energetic performance removed the sense of insecurity that permeates his music. Whether he was face-to-face with his microphone, riffing on his guitar, or pounding the living hell out of a trash can – Vasquez looked entirely at home in his electronic world.
Together, HIDE and The Soft Moon gave primal, urgent, gripping sets on Wednesday night, and we’re eagerly anticipating their return to the UK in 2019.
Photo Credit: Marion Costentin