Prides at Koko
Within ten seconds of Prides taking the stage, lighters are already in the air. Teenagers’ arms sway left to right, and Stewart Brock and Callum Wiseman croon like they’re closing the Pyramid Stage. It’s an odd way to start a show.
Prides deal in big, synth-led – or rather synth-dominated – pop songs. The band plays without a bassist, but with two keyboards, a guitar, and two high-ish voices. The sound is treble-dominated, and the songs lack warm and depth as a result. It doesn’t help that the lyrics (when audible) stick religiously to the Imagine Dragons/Bastille template of wide-screen emotional platitudes: “let it go”, “just give me a reason”, “I keep on coming back to you”, and so on. Prides make matters worse with severely grating stage banter.
The band do break up their set with more experimental passages, but their experiments are mostly unsuccessful. The grungy chorus of Higher Love is pleasantly unusual, but the song is tarnished by a squealing, onanistic guitar solo that adds absolutely nothing. The dissonant fret-scratches of Little Danger, similarly, are unusual, but not pleasant. Much better is their cover of Ellie Goulding’s On My Mind, on which the band, for once, sound a little fierce.
For their encore, Prides are joined by support acts Ross Leighton (of Fatherson) and Frida Sundemo. Crop-haired Swede Sundemo, presumably sick of being compared to Robyn, played a wonderfully crunchy noise-pop set earlier, achieving a much fuller sound with a hand drum and two keyboards than Prides manage with a full(ish) band. Unfortunately, she and Leighton add little to The Kite String and the Anchor Rope, a dinky little ballad that goes on rather too long.
Prides are married to those four-minute-plus, slow motion weepies, which is a shame; their short, bombastic party songs go down much better. At points towards the end of the gig the crowd is significantly louder than the band. The more infantile, sugary elements of the set – the Disney jokes, the 8-bit N64 synths – have made it hard to take Prides’ slow songs seriously.
The editorial unit
For further information about Prides and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Higher Love here: