[Written by Lynsay Holmes]
[Image Credits: Marilena Vlachopoulou]
What better way to round off Freshers week than The Ninth Wave (TNW) taking the QMU last Saturday night. The Glaswegian four piece are a marriage of eighties post punk and Scottish pride and therefore the perfect individuals to introduce GU’s fresh faces to our city’s sound. Releasing Part One of their debut album Infancy earlier this year, the band have a tendency to defy convention. At one point literally smashing up mirrors and scattering them around the city as a sort of artistic, free advertising.
To set the scene, they chose their support acts well: Aberdeen/Livingston duo Gravelle and “Scots misplaced in London” DamnDirtyDuke were perfectly in line with the band’s aesthetic. Before entering the space, TNW anticipated their own presence by transforming the QMU into a holy site; flooding the space with spiritual, hymn like tones. Scottish and eccentric, they coolly walked on stage holding character. Then the sound of the synthesiser and rays of red light coalesced into the first track of their new album, This Broken Design.
Vocalists Amelia Kidd and Haydn Park Patterson clad in white dress, black harness and bare chest, kilt combos, respectively, began the show. The first two tracks performed were well executed, but they came into their element with Sometimes the Silence is Sweeter. Experimenting with what felt like a slower release of the song, the synthesiser deviated from the track’s norm to be almost ambient at moments. It felt gentler and calmer, yet overall still maintained a punk oomph.
This energy then evolved into what is one of my favourite tracks, Used to Be Yours. Aggressively haunting, vocalist Amelia (physically embodying every word) came to the crowd holding a mirror up with the lyrics, shouting “so incapable of being alone” into their faces. The frustration and anger in Kidd’s delivery made me see that the track’s pain is more than simple melancholy. Howling the word “alone” with band member Haydn in embrace, they communicated the universal difficulty and frustration of learning to be comfortable and secure in solely yourself. Concurrently, Kidd also kept things light with well-timed interjections of banter. Making jokes with the students that they would be “half pure” after Freshers’ week.
From Spotify to stage, their transformation from musicians to performers was enthralling to watch. Amelia and Haydn are a performative yin and yang: the way they manifest punk as performers is different, yet equally powerful. Amelia’s tendency is to vex the crowd: she hovers over them, taunting them with her whole-body. Haydn, with the same gravitas, often channels his energy into slowness and stillness. He takes his time to do things and moves strong in a composed style. His grace particularly came to light in Swallow Me. They balance each other well.
In the opening of New Kind of Ego, I was trying to stay analytical and keep account of the action in front of me, but I couldn’t help but be sucked in by the music. Yelling and thrashing my body, the visceral reaction of intense stomping and screaming: “did you forget to tell me?!” took over my person. Passion possessed on stage, Amelia was flinging her head back and releasing nothing but pure rage, Haydn was pulling himself off stage and then dragging himself back on, the synth player was pressing all of his energy into his instrument, and the drummer smashed his heart out.
Before I knew it however, it was all over. With final track Swallow Me, the band took off their performance like a piece of clothing, dropping the act and casually walking off stage. In true punk essence: they came in, tore the place up, and then left as if it never happened. It was the perfect ending for them as a band.
Looking at their musical evolution, from their first release till now, I feel they have now discovered how they want to birth themselves. They are self-aware that really this is the beginning, and hence why they’re in “infancy”. To that end, if this is their infancy, I can’t imagine the level they’ll be at in the next few years. For now, I’m enjoying the “broken design” of an album split into two parts and I’m excited to see their development in Part Two.