Wild Smiles at Rough Trade East
Wild Smiles are a surf-rock/psychedelic noise pop trio from Hampshire. Sounding like the Beach Boys-meets-The Monkeywrench with a dose of The Kinks, their music is an interesting use of a style that isn’t too common outside of the skate-punk genre. They played a short show at Rough Trade East to promote their recent EP Take Me Away, which was released on the 8th July.
The band came onto the stage vaguely unprepared and needed a few minutes for some minor tweaking of instruments, but it was not too distracting, and their great energy from the outset grew as they played. Their live sound had a lot of growl to its tone, driven by traditional surf-rock drum rhythms. This sharper edge was unexpected but worked well.
Chris Peden’s, microphone was too quiet and his voice, apart from intermittent shrieks, barks and bursts of manic laughter, was often lost under the guitar and drums. There was some compensation through the use of psychedelic echo filters on the mic, which gave everyone a second chance to work out what was being sung, but it wasn’t enough to restore clarity or excuse the problem. This was particularly noticeable during Take Me Away, and in Tangled Hair, with its heavy surf-rock overtone and an almost grungy undercurrent running through the live performance.
Their final song, Life Builds You Up, started off in a less hectic manner and it seemed as if Wild Smiles were ending the gig on a mellower note, but apparently not: the song became increasingly eccentric as it went on; their accelerated playing intensity and the increase in random barks and screams revealed their desire to go out with a bang, which they certainly did.
It’s a shame the crowd was so small, as Wild Smiles deserved more attention than they received. Their limited repertoire meant that the set lasted less than half an hour, but they played their songs with enthusiasm and vigour. The main problem was vocal clarity and that detracted fairly noticeably from the overall experience, however their performance was otherwise tight and hugely enjoyable.
For further information and future events visit Wild Smiles’ website here.
Watch the video for Tangled Hair here: