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The KVB, The White Hotel. 10th May 2024

There’s been a few cathartic gigs of late. Well aren’t they all in one way or another, but I’ve been itching to see The KVB again, ever since last years MCR Psych Fest. I only caught part of their set and I’ve felt slightly guilty ever since. This was originally due to be in the same venue, which would’ve added to the continuity, but sadly and shockingly Canvas has closed down. Instead we’re in The White Hotel, a venue I adore and one that suits The KVB perfectly. It has an ominous tone you see. No frills, you take it as seen and that suits this duos sound. We’re dealing with dark brooding electronics and guitars. I could blather on about various sub-genres, everything has to have a label these days doesn’t it, but this is what we used to call GOTH. Those caps are intentional, not because they’re forcing this on anyone, but because they’re bloody brilliant at it. We repackage this sound in post punk darkwave shoegaze because goth fell out of favour so quickly. I for one can’t be arsed painting my nails anymore and big hair is no longer an option, but there’s more to this than that. It’s the power in its core and bloody hell do The KVB have power. They don’t look goth of course, I know you’re picturing Rob Smith, but they take to the corner stage with little fanfare. Almost sneaking on. With a decades worth of albums to pull from, despite the core sound there’s a lot of variation in the set. The new stuff is said to be a return to the more straight up guitar roots, but the electro elements that crept in with Kat over the years haven’t been lost. They sound bright and shiny as much as dark and gloomy. The drum machine is crisp and sharp. The synths wash gloriously over the top and Nicolas’ bassy vocal sit perfectly with the Cure-esque guitars. There’s also some beautiful visual projected behind them, for while I believe Kat is responsible. Lots of abstract stuff, but one of my favourites is the monolithic tower block for ‘Always Then’. It’s pure Brutilism and it occurs to me that they’d be the perfect soundtrack for a stroll around The Barbican. There’s no bad songs, in this set or their catalog to be fair. ‘Labyrinths’ off the new album is a banger. Like early Sisters before they got into throwing choirs into the mix. Subtle bangers though. The last time I was here it was a crowd surfing sweatpit, but tonight is a bit more civilised. ‘Unbound’ flexes an almost summery sound with rock hewn amps emoting radio pulses on the projection, before the underground menace of ‘Unite’ hits us will some pulsating bass. With Kat singing it takes a different tone and is utterly brilliant. You could almost singalong with the words handily etched into the projection. There’s a brief annoyance from two lads dancing like they’ve watched too many TikTok videos during ‘Overload’, but it passes. “Now for some older songs” announces Kat, as the disarmingly bouncy ‘Never Enough’ is unleashed. The collective sway that ripples through the crowd adding to the already increasing heat. I’m thrilled to hear one of my favourites ‘Hands’ live, it’s monumental and every bit as massive as I’d hope. Writing that down I’m drawn to how much scale seems to be a thing with The KVB, they’ve got that aura of being much more than the sum of their parts and it has to be said with just the pair of them onstage, they deliver the live sound brilliantly. Despite Kat’s encouragement I’m too hot to clap along during ‘From Afar’ and after they close with the catchy hooks of ‘Above Us’, I’m gasping for air and I consider edging toward the door. I’ve got a good spot though and there’s more to come in the encore (they really could’ve just stayed on, there’s not really anywhere to go in here). Starting with their cover of The Standells ‘Medication’. It’s a deep cut from their covers album from last year, reimagining Psychedelic classics. I’ll admit I don’t know the original, but their version is great and sets up ‘Dayzed’ brilliantly. Which is exactly how this leaves you feeling. Partly due to the sound desk cranking everything for the finale. They do this a lot here I find and I’m all for it. Great set from a great band. Get yourself to one of their gigs, your ears will thank you.


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