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Gig review: Harmer Jays, Ali Rice and FELIX @ Mr Wolfs

Epigram's Saiba Haque enjoyed a night of shoegazey indie music at Mr Wolf’s performed by Bristol-based Harmer Jays, supported by Ali Rice and FELIX.

by Saiba Haque, Deputy Food Editor

As I arrived at Mr Wolf’s. I got myself a drink and asked a few people sitting on a table if I can join them until the show starts. Soon after, to my surprise, it dawned on me that I was sitting amongst the band members of Harmer Jays, as I looked up at the poster next to me. They seemed equally surprised when I disclosed that I would be reviewing the gig. With mutual surprises underway, we engaged in some insightful conversation before Felix opened the show for the night.

Having spoken with Harmer Jays, I have learnt a few things about the band. I asked them which band/artist inspire them most for their music. They had a plethora of answers to this, some of the artists were: Jeff Buckley, James Blake, Dijon, Elliot Smith, Phoebe Bridgers etc. Amongst this chain of conversation, naturally we geeked out about Phoebe Bridgers’ and Elliot Smith’s depressingly emotive song-writing; Until it was time for FELIX to open the night, and for me to continue with my job.

Felix started off the night with great energy. The band performed very cohesively and their vocals were immaculately harmonised. It was my first time hearing FELIX’s music, and he truly deserves more attention from indie music listeners out there. I only wish to be able to listen more of his work, so hopefully we finally get some Spotify releases soon.

FELIX (and band) on stage at Mr Wolfs / Saiba Haque
FELIX at Mr Wolfs / Saiba Haque

Speaking with FELIX after the gig, he described his love for the Bristol scene and plans for the future: "It's a really friendly community of musicians we have here (in Bristol), and some brilliant venues.", said FELIX laughing as he went on to say that he is "hoping to get on to some bigger shows once I manage to get some songs released".

I had listened to some of Ali Rice’s  music before the gig, and I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about them as a band. Upon listening to them live, I can assure that I liked their energy in their live performance. I preferred some of the guitar heavy tracks from their set, but that’s just my bias. In regards to the vocal performance, I can’t help but feel that some of Ali Rice’s vocals were difficult to catch onto. I noticed his interesting vocal style as he performed live, where there was not a lot of enunciation when singing. When paired with overly loud instrumentals, it made Rice’s admirable vocals drown out a bit.

Ali Rice at Mr Wolfs / Saiba Haque 

However, this can be down to a technical sound error where the loudness of the instrumentals were not appropriately catered to the singing style of the front-man. Another technical difficulty that the band faced was in their last song, when one of the strings of their guitar broke mid-performance. Nevertheless, the show went on, and in the end they pulled it together. Despite the technical difficulties, I still admire the sound of their music and their live performance was strong.

Finally onto Harmer Jays. They currently have four singles up on Spotify, each with vastly different sounds. Upon listening to their music, and having the opportunity to converse with them, I can certainly pick up on their influences that they mentioned in conversation illustrated eloquently in their music. The themes of melancholy and sadness were very prominent in Harmer Jays’ discography. Hence, when I heard them live, it felt immensely hypnotising. The vocals were tremendously ethereal, especially in the songs ‘California in Bloom’ and their latest single ‘Newsfeed’.

Harmer Jays at Mr Wolfs / Saiba Haque

They also sang some unreleased material, which sounded surprisingly upbeat, but refreshing nonetheless. In their live performance, they sounded absolutely remarkable! I had my initial doubts on whether their recorded songs would be able to hold up in a live setting, but I was so elated to see that the live renditions of their songs were very well performed. Moreover, the frontman (Harry) is endearingly charming with his anecdotes in between performances. Even though it was their first gig performance, they did strikingly well.

Overall, I immensely enjoyed the gig! The Opening bands were remarkable starts and Harmer Jays’ performance shone through with vast potential. If you’re into live indie music, I would check all of the bands out!

Listen to Harmer Jays and Ali Rice's tunes here:

Featured Image: Saiba Haque

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