The Gulps move The Windmill, London, October 27th 2020
Social Distance defines a song’s declaration, and on a Tuesday night in South London, The Gulps declared loud and clear. Inbetween select space their hungry roar fed the vital, to make a sparse room seem crowded, these young men can play plenty, to make even a coronic room soar. The Gulps progress with each show, or certainly did before lockdown. Now, carefully released, they play images as well as their tight set of songs. From ripped shirt and jeans to Roxy like suits, 80s jackets; this group from all places seem to take in all music too. Their songs crash and soothe, they bump and grind, they seek glory, as frontman Harry All sings through both softness and sneering as his co-songwriter and guitarist Charlie Green smoothes the sound. While FAB, their lead guitarist artfully Ronsons with both light and texture, rhythm section Simon Mouchard and Raoul Khayat summon fire, which makes The Gulps forge corrosive and persuasive too, from the start.
STUCK IN THE CITY is pure strut in words and music. Power chords and a melody belie a craft beyond their small years. It is a truly classic sounding song, like the early Who or The Jam’s In The City; a ‘21st Nervous Breakdown,’ that the tyro Richards and Jones might have shared. The Gulps excel at short sets in which there is barely a chance to consider just how well crafted their music has continued to be since they formed. They are not in love with themselves; the trap that other bands their age can and often do fall into. They are in love with the music that powers and links eager hands.
MIRROR MIRROR is more than could be expected. From a jangling staccato line, the urgent call and New Wave NY stylings, complete with falsetto BV’s to break through. The rhythms collide, showing just how fast they are thinking, as if there were countless means to trap power and to structure and shape for the stage. LOLA COLA is a sanguine gulp of pop that is passed like a kiss between partners. Its elegance made all the more perfect but its command of what it does to the form. The Gulps do what all great bands do: play with the forms that engaged them, and this song is a staple for anyone wishing to bind style to sound. TIME GOES BY and THE ART OF WAR fully extend their first brief, heralding their new album, which produced by Youth is forthcoming and shows just how anticipated they are. Tonight, Alan McGee checks them out, and the Covid Crowd would have helped them, as whoops, swoons and wailing, making this Brixton Pub the arena they are destined to play, should we rise.
The songs define tonight’s space with compact precison. One can hear The Stones, Free and Pavement, Generation X, Talking Heads, early Blur. And yet in their international mix there is no imitation, only the reverb and echo of previous and indeed, future times. The La las are clear, alongside the swagger. These GANGA BOYS will take no SURRENDER as their Art of War is raged for you, and so on your behalf they resist. FAB (Francesco Antonio Buffone) knits six string threads of electricified sound to the point of steam and smoke rising, as he fills every moment with angular shapes and curved chords. Khayat plays his kit like a team or legion of drummers. While Mouchard ‘Bruces’ and ‘Entwistles’; his bass shapes are as dextrous as John and Jack early on. Green is the glue that binds this band together and his dignified stance at all moments elevates the groups class. Singer, Harry All wants to see the audience dance, but they are under strict supervision, with a friendly but still ruthless barman not permitting anyone in there to stand. And so the urgency is held down and perhaps made all the more potent, as OUT OF TUNE and OUT OF THE BLUE pass sly but still strident comment on just where the world has reached outside, and could be.
The Gulps are a band who would eat the air itself to breathe fire. They swallow sensation and spit out song that spreads taste from Pop to Punk, to Rock, to Funk, to points of near aural abstraction, as theirs is a canvas that’s stretching every single time that they play. If they remain within rock then they will colour that stone with a richness that will explore every crevice and replenish the moss as they roll, and if they extend across style, then they have a signature sound to connect them; one of youth, drive and voices that create a new Xperanto; an international brand that feels needed and which is also pure London, as they translate influence into action to make the kind of rock that feels real.
Closing song and lead track of their new Ep THE KING’S HOUSE is a trip in each and all senses. It shows how even a small room can transport us away from where we thought we were, to palaces of the mind where reality alters and finds fresh foundation in the dreams and dance the heart feels.
Tonight, The Windmill turned fast, for anyone there to listen. Catch their air. Hear and swallow. The Gulps are more than the wine. They’re the way.
David Erdos October 28th 2020
Photos: Domante Kaminskaite