Live: Hinds @ KOKO Camden
They can’t sing, can barely play, and their debut album Leave Me Alone sounds like it was recorded down a phone line. And yet, Madrid based all female four-piece Hinds, are currently darlings of the mainstream music press and were nominated in the ‘Best New Artist’ category in the 2016 NME Awards.
Still, if questionable technical merit and lo-fi albums were a barrier to entry, The Sex Pistols and their ilk couldn’t have given the music industry a much needed kick up the arse in the late 70s and I think we’re all in agreement that we wouldn’t have wanted to be without them. So, with an open mind, I took another trip up the Northern Line to Camden’s glorious balcony strewn KOKO to check up on what the fuss surrounding Hinds is all about.
In fact, this is the second time I’ve seen them play live. Last year, Hinds were a support artist to Darwin Deez when I saw him at Village Underground. I remember them as being a hell of a lot of fun, if not necessarily guaranteed to be destined for greater things – so it’s a pretty impressive feat that tonight they have sold out KOKO, a venue that in capacity terms might not quite be in London’s Premier League, but most certainly occupies a sole spot at the top of the capital’s Football Championship.
Centre stage, Carlotta Cosials (guitar/vocals) looks left and right at Ana García Perrote (guitar/vocals) and Ade Martín (bass/vocals) with a permagrin etched on her face. She radiates energy allied to an overwhelming vibe of ‘no, we can’t believe it either’. Meanwhile, at the back, drummer Amber Grimbergen keeps time. Approximately. They opened with Warning With The Curling, a song that pre-dates Hinds, when Cosials and Perrote performed as a duo under the name Deers. They were forced to change that owing to a threat of legal action from Canadian band The Dears. Well, a hind is a female deer after all.
As the show unfolds, you feel the primary reason I’m here with a 1400 capacity audience is that my assessment from Village Underground was right; they really are a hell of a lot of fun and in an increasingly cynical music industry it’s actually rather refreshing to be watching artists completely free of pretense; devoid of any agenda other than to ensure they’re enjoying it at least as much as the fans they serve. The set list under Cosials’ feet isn’t a neatly typed corporatised sheet of A4; it’s a ripped up bit of corrugated cardboard covered in hand-written scrawl that looks like it once contained fifteen cans of something. The fifteen cans of something are strewn about the stage. It’s a good metaphor for what Hinds are all about.
After Warning With The Curling, Trippy Gum and Fat Calmed Kiddos, I leave the photo pit and fight my way back across the floor of the auditorium. It’s seriously full down here. At KOKO, your ticket gets you access anywhere, and 90% of this audience want to access the stalls it seems. I opt to escape the maelstrom and head for one of the many balconies. At least that’s easier than navigating the floor – this place has more staircases than Hogwarts Castle.
Hinds rattle through a set list that not surprisingly draws heavily from the music on Leave Me Alone and not surprisingly the crowd recognise every note and not surprisingly they go absolutely crazy. From up here, the hold this young band has on the audience is a sight to behold. Mosh pits are in constant free form, regenerating like microbes on a petri dish. The crowd ricochet around like over-enthusiastic billiard balls following a particularly hectic break. I worked as a House Photographer at KOKO and have seen an awful lot of gigs here. I’ve never seen an audience as fired up as this.
For a final encore, the band plays a cover of Thee Headcoatees’ Davey Crockett. It’s a suitably manic party song and accordingly they invite on stage a very large collection of their mates – half of Madrid seems to have accompanied them on this trip and they’ve been patiently waiting in the wings for 75 minutes as if greyhounds anticipating a passing hare. When they get on stage they bounce around like Tigger on steroids. You get the impression that most of the audience would be up there too, were it not for a beefed up security presence at the front. Just before they left, Perrote invited the entire 1400 to the after-show. You get the impression she actually meant it.
I make my way to the exit and can’t help but think about the buzz this band is creating. To me, it has the whiff of Emperor’s New Clothes – but then I’m hardly the target demographic. Will Carlotta Cosials and Hinds be mentioned in the same breath as John Lydon and The ‘Pistols in twenty years time? Probably not, but as I survey the dripping sweat and beaming smiles of the people leaving KOKO tonight, you feel it would take only the most churlish to deny them their moment of glory in the light.
Live Review & Concert Photography by Simon Reed. See more of Simon’s photography on his personal website: www.musicalpictures.co.uk
More pictures from the gig are on this link: http://rockshot.photoshelter.com/gallery/Hinds/G0000ABdmhkC8iHM