Wednesday 8 March 2023

PVA - The Boiler Room, Guildford - 6th March 2023

This was a random choice, but one I enjoyed, even if I'm still struggling to put a name to the genre!

Feeling a bit bored and in need of a February cheer up, I browsed my local venues' upcoming gigs.

There was no-one I recognised that I fancied seeing, so I searched a couple of the unknown acts on You Tube and as a result booked to see PVA a couple of weeks later.

My initial impressions were they sound a bit like a hard-edged 'Confidence Man' and I figured I couldn't go too wrong for £12.50.

I arrived around 8, just in time to catch the support act, Circe.

I would have to say, she was probably one of the support acts I've least enjoyed.

She was in completele darkness throughout, with a projector showing images behind her. I assume there was some relevance to the images to the songs, but I couldn't pick out any of her lyrics, with the exception of an odd expletive.

Between songs, she muttered the odd thanks and more expletives - Generally, bloody awful, I thought and I was grateful for a trip to the bar after a few songs. Each to their own, though, she seemed to have some support in the audience.

Aside from hearing their album, I knew next to nothing about PVA, but obviously they have a following as the venue filled up, if not to capacity, at least to a healthy March Monday night crowd by the time they came on stage.

The band are a man (Josh Baxter) and a woman (Ella Harris) on synthesisers (the latter sometimes on guitar) and an old-school drummer (Louis Satchell), although there is a fair amount of drum machine in their sound too.

The first song was a noisy affair, with plenty of energy, but sounding rather thrash-metal at times. I remember thinking that this wasn't a track you'd hum on the way home!

Luckily, the next track was a more familiar sound, being from the album, Blush, which I'd heard on YouTube and which was typical of the rythmic electronic sound that had tempted me to buying a ticket.

Oddly, they too, chose to (or had to) play in near darkness, with just the odd flashing light to illuminate them - Surely The Boiler Room weren't saving money on their electric bill by failing to light the stage?

The set was short (about 50 minutes) and there was no encore (although Ella did - jokingly I assume - suggest they'd sing acapella versions of the songs they hadn't played at the Merch stand after the gig - I didn't stay to find out if that was true).

However, it was energetic and catchy on the whole. Ella was the centre of attention (Although Josh did take centre stage on vocals and physically for the finale), with a fair amount of stage presence.

As I left, a youngish man asked me if I'd enjoyed it - I wondered if he expected me to say no,given I was at least twice his age, but I replied, "Yes, good wasn't it?" and indeed I'd felt it was.

I'm still not really sure how to define them, but the abiding feeling was that they projected loads of energy, with the electronic beat being the part that I retain.

Acid House? Disco/Punk? Electro/Heavy Metal? I've seen them all used to describe them, but I'm not sure any really fit! Their own PR describes the album as 'made from a formula of acid, disco, blistering synths, the release of the dancefloor and queer-coded sprechgesang post-punk', which I wouldn't say really helps!

I suspect this may have been a one off visit to see PVA, but I felt it was money well spent and I wouldn't be surprised if they go on to be huge.

Setlist: (from a recent gig)
Hero Man
Exhaust / Surroundings
The Individual