If there was ever a venue made for HMLTD, it would be the White Hotel. Found in a grimy warehouse in the depths of an old Salford industrial estate, the White Hotel’s dystopian surroundings are the perfect compliment to HMLTD’s futuristic aesthetic and music. Hailing from the same ‘south London scene’ as bands such as Shame, Goat Girl and Sorry, HMLTD have been far more conservative with their musical output since their conception. While their peers have either released an album or have one on the way, the mysterious 6 piece have only released a handful of singles since the tail end of 2016. Despite this, the tracks the group have released have sent critics tongues wagging, including that of a certain YouTube music reviewer: Anthony Fantano.
Having kitted out the White Hotel with their own custom décor, the band took to the stage fashionably late at around 10pm, dressed in their usual eccentric attire and donning various brightly coloured hair cuts. The group kicked off their set with two new songs, both of which proved disappointing. The post-punk edge that had dominated the band’s early singles, such as ‘Is This What You Wanted’ and ‘Stained’, subsided to make room for a fairly dull 80s pop influence in new songs ‘Gloria’ and ‘Inside Out’. Despite this disappointment, the band still delivered some of their unconventional grit on new track ‘Death Drive’ which featured brutal bass and guitar lines that electrified the crowd.
However, the band redeemed themselves through flawless performances of fan favourites, such as the stunning post-punk hit ‘Is This What You Wanted’ along with their spaghetti western-style second single ‘To The Door’, whose skull rattling sub-drops sent the crowd wild. The more subdued ‘Satan, Luella and I’ was also a highlight of the evening as vocalist Henry Spychalski demonstrated his immense talents, beautifully complimented by a backing vocalist throughout the track. The set ended with the monstrous ‘Stained’ which sent the entire crowd into spasm from its erratic beginning to its dirty Death Grips drop at the end. Unfortunately, crowd favourite ‘Where’s Joanna?’ was sadly omitted from the set, reinforcing concerns that the band are moving further and further away from the harsh bite that brought them their early success.
HMLTD’s stage show has been a notable attribute of the band since their beginning. From their eccentric outfits to the band’s genuine, captivating stage presence, Spychalski stalks the stage like a deranged mad man while the rest of the group hold cold eyed stares onto the crowd; the 6-piece create an uneasy yet electric atmosphere in any venue they grace with their presence. Despite having this effect at the White Hotel, the band had unfortunately elected to bring one of their art school droogs onto the stage who plagued the performance by chasing Spychalski around the tiny stage with a strobe light and a camera to capture the show. While his presence was amusing at first, it quickly became an irritation and a tool for which the band could hide their growing musical mediocrity as I found myself increasingly distracted by this makeup drenched goon rather than the act I had actually come to see.
Despite some moments of brilliance throughout the set, the band were let down by a movement away from their roots along with on-stage gimmicks and a fairly self-indulgent crowd singalong conducted by Spychalski at the end of ‘Satan, Luella and I’.