Veronica Falls: The Duchess, 11/03/2012


Veronica Falls played their first show in York at The Duchess, with support from Novella and popular York uni campus bands Chuck Jager and Ambulance.

Deputising for an under the weather Jonjo, I put aside plans for a power-nap and sprinted into town to gorge on a delicious smorgasbord of musical offerings. Ambulance were the first band on and they warmed up nicely for the next three acts. After a long turnaround, Chuck Jager took to the stage to a large vocal crowd. Their set was an undisputed highlight of the night with opener ’Purple Words’ a brilliant slice of alternative rock music. The musicianship of Chuck Jager has to be commended, lead guitarist Luke was fantastic and front man Rory’s Antlers-esque vocals made for an enjoyable set.

Novella were the next band up and sadly they couldn’t pick up where Chuck Jager left off. Looking thoroughly bored throughout, the quartet was completely devoid of stage presence; leading to a surge to the bar from the majority of the crowd (resulting in a terrified looking lone barman). The three guitar-playing girls all sported the same haircut and with each one of them looking terrified at being on stage it made for an underwhelming visual spectacle. Musically it was hard to tell if they had decent songs, as the sound mix in the cavernous venue throughout the night was pretty poor. Vocals were completely drowned and drums were heart-burstingly overpowering. They seemed to have some luck with their final song, which was a positive note for a pretty dull set, although the lead singer failed to mention the names of any song (or mention anything for that matter).

I had high hopes for Veronica Falls; highly rated by Rough Trade (Top 10 Album of 2011) and Drowned in Sound (9/10 for their eponymous debut) they brought some much-needed musical class to York. Their set was a pleasant enough affair with nicely strummed guitars and intricate three-part male/female harmonies between the drummer and two lead vocalists. ‘Bad Feeling’ was my personal pick of the night but was plagued by a poor sound mix. Veronica Falls showed good initiative to play an instrumental interlude whilst guitarist and vocalist Roxanne Clifford scampered around the stage looking for a guitar to borrow because of a snapped string. In the end the interlude was all in vain as lead guitarist James ended up replacing the string to awkward shuffling from the band. Despite a distinct lack of variation in their sound, Veronica Falls are good at what they do and despite technical problems managed to pull of a respectable gig. Although on another day I would have liked to see the bands again, without the plea of “more guitar” or “less drums” to the rogue sound tech between each song.

Joni Roome