Boy Harsher // Live Review & Photoset

24th February | The Lanes

Photos: Naomi Williams

Breaking up the usual Sunday routine of admin and ironing felt refreshing when queuing up for this sold-out event. The Lanes is no stranger to bringing in wacky artists to its stage, where the atmosphere of bubbling excitement was justified. As the venue filled rapidly, the support of Canadian producer, Kontravoid booted proceedings into an electronic timewarp.

Adorning his trademark white mask, the ex-Crystal Castles drummer launched into his set with white strobing, which remained the only visual throughout. As he weaved through lesser-known material, to celebrated underground gems on his latest EP, Undone, it became clear that his setlist almost became insignificant. I mean this in the sense that when witnessing Kontravoid’s excursion into industrial techno, his futuristic yet solitary alias is endlessly intriguing.

From the injections of synthed-up vocals to the ever-so-vigilantly conducted zorbs, the set was consistently intense. As most flocked outside for a breather afterwards, it appeared that the feeling was mutual that Kontravoid’s support slot was truly transcendent.

As Boy Harsher took to the stage, the duo floated into Yr Body Is Nothing’s  ‘A Realness’. From the outset, moody delivery and expansive synths were chopped by chiming keys from Augustus Muller’s powerhouse production. It was easy to see why Bristol was in awe, as their material delved into synth-pop territory, commonplace in British acts. Comparable to early Simple Minds, their latest full-length, Careful sees Boy Harsher graduate into poppier compositions. ‘LA’, in particular, demonstrated a blend of BH’s typical cultish noise, with melodic techno seeping through.

The album is an ode to struggle, in how rising from the darkest of places can be overcome. As seen in ‘Fate’ and ‘Lost’, the duo triumphed in how minimalism can make the most poignant impact in a live setting. Jae remained quiet in the interludes, as the set convoyed through dreamwave beats and rampant basslines.

With the upcoming week’s duties looming, the crowd always seemed on the cusp of completely letting loose, but remained relatively tame. This factor by no means lessened the thrill experienced when witnessing Boy Harsher’s sonically-mesmerising set. The undeniable romance surrounding Boy Harsher lies in their escapism, which revives nostalgic eras, all the while producing modern works that induce dance.

This night was one of emotion. From Boy Harsher’s enthralling noise to their identifiable lyrics. However, an emotion that stuck with me long after the gig itself was one of sheer rage. Throughout the set itself, a group took it upon themselves to constantly scream at Jae to remove her clothes. This kind of jeering is one that I wouldn’t usually comment on in a review, but the apparent discomfort it was causing throughout the evening was antagonising and painful.

I hope that one day, Boy Harsher will return to the city for an experience where they can equally enjoy it as much as doting fans.

See the video to ‘LA’ here: