27th August | Louisiana & Thekla

Photo: Rowan Allen

Throughout their seven years as a label, Art Is Hard Records have thrived from following one simple aesthetic, releasing what they love. Their releases, as proven today, don’t simply fall into one categorical genre, they rather possess an identity of youthful, grounded musicianship that is pensive, romantic and true to itself. So to celebrate their birthday this year, a step up to Thekla and Louisiana was appropriate, the size of the crowds that arrived from the early hours proving that the music that Art is Hard have given us has left something resoundingly significant within the minds of many.

Playing as a three piece, Gorgeous Bully are able to inject a certain looseness into Thomas Crang’s songs, further enhancing his pensive reflections. An unmistakable honesty and optimism rings true throughout his music, and live it’s channelled through frank and determined delivery.

Nugget craft lingering folk that’s far reaching yet purposefully innate, evoking moving vulnerability within the compositions. Mellow, whirring synth trickles throughout as Emily Isherwood’s unwavering vocal rallies from subtle murmur to an encompassing intensity. Today the music flows and sets so beautifully, capturing the very moment.

The Orielles‘ off-kilter pop is bolstered live with an added drive and vivacity. The loose grooves show their melodic tendencies, their rhythmic propensity drenched with vigour and energy. There is mountains of progressive expansion breaking out from within their live foundations, displayed in Henry Wade’s consistently traversing melodies, the group’s tightness and the yearning wonder of ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’.

Penelope Isles‘ live set has evolved from mellow beginnings to sky-reaching atmospherics, particularly pivotal for their graceful and seamless evocations . Their continued live development has allowed them to find a consistent purple patch in creativity, the jazzy quirk of ‘Chlorine’ leading into the celestial chimes of ‘ Why We’re Always Talking’ particularly standing out. Their music is blossoming the more they spend with it live.

Despite Poppy’s voice being taken for ransom, Girl Ray‘s gleaming, eager power-pop songs shined through. Live they possess a rowdier, angular trait to their melodies and this adds to their earnest foundations. Swelling harmonies flow within the distinct rhythms, and it’s evidence of their togetherness as a band. With Big Jeff and Henry from The Orielles joining on tambourine for ‘Preacher’, it felt not only like a celebration of where the label has come but where Girl Ray in particular are heading.

With a plethora of fantastic songs to choose from their latest record, Happyness wind their distinctively warped and noisy penchants into their live set, and it offers a different vagrant to their more nurtured second album. Early on they let loose, tearing through with an intensity that adds even further character to their more wistful moments. ‘Through Windows’ and ‘Falling Down’ sparkle and burst with texture, the layers slowly unveiling their hidden colours within expressive pop songs. The way in which the two records differ has allowed them to progress as a richer band.

Ultimate Painting are a taut band in the most potent of senses, guitars chime in dual bliss and rhythms buzz in a constant motion as Jack and James’ sharp and literate visions are channelled through close-quartered harmonies. Playing through the breadth of their three records with almost unbroken pace, ’10 Street’ rattles and flourishes through a loose jam, the band at their height when able to open up their already sharp songs and texture them with further progressive distortion.

Headlining, Beach Fossils possess the assuredness to elaborate on their music live. Dustin Payseur delivers with transparency, as the band delve within their beloved catalogue, openly pinpointing the open vulnerability of their songs. The songs breathe for having a fuller sound, and the new album moulds well within the familiar sounds of previous records. Despite the mass crowd descended upon them the group still feel intimate, proving their influence on such a label like Art Is Hard, and how they among others set a benchmark for a label to carry on and elaborate upon.

A day of celebration and looking to the future, the prospects are exciting for not only the bands playing today but the label who has given them the time and dedication they all deserve. The passion that rings through the day is undeniable, and that speaks a lot for the two guys who have spent seven years instilling such feeling into what they do.

Check out Beach Fossils video for ‘Down the Line’.