Tamaryn Live at the Moth Club, February 4th
The Moth Club, in Hackney, London, plays its own undeniable role in every performance that plays out inside its walls. That glittering, golden ceiling. That gold tinsel stage backdrop. Those couched ensconces for the concert-goers tired of standing. It all brings to mind a lounge singer in their mid-60’s still swapping back and forth between Presley, Sinatra, and Crosby. It’s not sleazy, and it’s not dirty, but the room oozes glitzy squalor in the very best way. It’s a room that artists can either embrace, roughening up their sound and removing the polish, or break through and subvert. It’s a room that Tamaryn and support act Some Ember both very much leant into.
It’s the kind of stage, as well, where acts just wander up on stage, with no fanfare and sometimes no attention, and launch right in – exactly what Some Ember did. That first massive hit of bass, laying the foundation for the night’s volume and intensity, came so abruptly to some that the person next to me jumped in their spot from fright. There was a suggestion of the mad scientist in how Some Ember’s’ Dylan Travis took to the stage – a long white lab coat hung from his shoulders, paired with black vinyl or latex gloves (it’s not my job to know which one specifically), his hair slicked back, strands plastered across his forehead. It was an air that Travis complemented with a stage presence where he swayed and slouched across the stage like a character in a gothic theatrical production, fists clenching, hands flying about, every moment imbued with drama. The perfect foil for his intensely bass-fuelled set, off-kilter drum lines flying everywhere with synth chords doing their best to anchor the song so Travis’ vocals could move about as well. At times the songs felt too bare bones on stage, lacking substance beyond thump and shine. The high point, however, was recent single Rift, whose more solid production was able to support the jagged edges of the song more comfortably.
For Tamaryn’s performance, Some Ember’s Dylan Travis ditched the lab coat and gloves and grabbed a guitar, with Tamaryn kicking off songs at the back of the stage on a keyboard before returning to the front of the stage to float her soaring vocals over the tracks. Watching Tamaryn perform, there’s some kind of ridiculous genre multiplication and crossover not just in the music but in the performance. Does synth-gaze-goth-pop exist? Because it almost works to describe the whole thing.
When Tamaryn looks into the crowd, wherever she looks, she manages to look every single person in the eye at once. Such a strong connection with the crowd nullifies the need for any talking, and indeed there is almost none – the occasional thanks more than sufficing. It’s the songs that matter, and with them Tamaryn erases the need to say anything else. There was, however, an inability to break free. The vocals and instrumentation were so laden with reverb and echo and delay that it was rarely possible for Tamaryn to cut through. There were moments when the vocals would reach a register that was able to pierce the sub-bass beat, low synth chords, and incredibly bassy guitar lines. However, attempts at bringing more power and intention into the performance often struggled to push through, and what resulted was a performance with little dynamism but great amounts of heft.
As it all winds down, the band slinks offstage without warning, the audience cheers, there are scattered attempts at starting a cheer for “one more song,” applause rises and falls, and reaches a crescendo as the door re-opens but it’s just someone returning from the bathroom looking for their mate, having missed the end of it all.
An edited version of this review can also be found at giglist.com