Panda Bear & Sonic Boom – Stone Anthem – Tval – The Box & Just Dropped In Records Coventry – 23rd of April 2023
Another night of exceptional music in Coventry, following on from the release their collaborative album ‘Reset’ last year, Panda Bear and Sonic Boom are touring. We catch up with them along with Stone Anthem at The Box and Tval in Just Dropped in records. Read what we thought below.
It’s stopped raining and there’s a space in the little car park round the back of the venue, plus, it’s free. We wander up to the record shop and join the people flicking through the racks of record store day releases, second hand gems and shrink wrapped new loveliness. Tval start as people continue flicking and they are synth a go go. They have an interesting wash of sound over a smooth vocal. Soothing to the soul and ear as the punters crate dive.
The sound gets deeper and slower, a lower bassy note to it and it builds up with long drawn out notes with a repeating tune over the top of it. It gets more involved and the music more defined and suddenly you realise that people are standing watching the band not looking at the records. There’s beats now, harder and more incessant and the music reaches out, whooshing out into space. It’s a good set from a band I’ve not seen before. A nice start to the evening.
I’ve not been into the Box before and it’s a large space. Which fills up fairly quickly. Stone Anthem is on stage, looking for all the world like a very young member of the Velvet Underground,playing a guitar into a table full of electronics. There’s a high synth whine and the soft ebb and flow of the ocean gently lapping at the shore. He picks out a tune on the guitar which is almost immediately buried in the mix as he adjusts the electronics. It’s a blissful nodded out calm.
The guitar now sounds muffled, there are fuzzed layers of static and the drone descends. A beat and bassline become obvious and the static waves get stronger and harder. The beat slows as the drone solidifies and even more static rains on down, The beat gets even slower and deliberate into a marching pace. This fades down into a muffled sound, as if you are next door to a party looking for the entrance.
The drone becomes huge, the static whooshes around our heads and the synths underneath with tiny sounds. He picks up the guitar, puts the notes in and then manipulates them even more. They start off small but there appears to be an engine starting behind them raising the noise into a crescendo. The drone rises again and the guitar wobbles and shakes underneath it, Heavy Dub drums and bassline crash over the strummed guitar and the sound turns otherworldly.
An excellent set from a young artist on the rise.
Panda Bear stands behind his synth. Sonic Boom sits behind his, Sonic introduces them both after saying how impressed he is with the venue, then it starts. The same as the album and the strumming of ‘Three Steps To Heaven’ fills the hall, then Panda Bear starts to sing and from then on this evening is filled with joyful, uplifting melodies and music. It’s free and full of summer sun. Electronic Beach vibes, the pair of them provide the handclaps. The song fades away to noise and then the chorus is epic and huge. The vocals are pure Beach Boys perfect and the sixties sound could be a full band but they are creating it on two banks of electronics. Fantastic.
It’s fresh and clean. They sing together as the music carries on shining, there’s a cow bell somewhere and Sonic sings, a lower more broken voice, he sounds lost. It fades away into a joint melody and once again morphs into perfect shining light. There are more handclaps, a spate of Ba Ba BA Boom and a fade away into the sound of chimes. Then there’s a night time song, the light is the moon and the vocal is plaintive, then Sonic joins in singing and it’s beautiful, hypnotic and it strikes me that these two don’t need the fantastic visuals projected behind them, they could do this in a room full of sunshine, or a dark cellar, the songs would still have the same impact.
There are hints of didgeridoo and a tropical rhythm now, it’s making my hips move, it’s got the joyful enthusiasm of those early Rock’n’Roll records, the joy of the first few surfer records and the love we all have dancing to our favourite music. It sounds like it’s in four dimensions.
There’s another fifties guitar sound strumming over a love song. It’s spaced out and sounds ace. The synths go up and down and there are weird whistles over the top of it. I’ve moved to the back of the hall and the lights are blinding as they circle around the audience. They play the songs from the album. They do an encore and they finish almost to the minute of the half ten curfew. It’s a hypnotisingly fantastic gig. An uplifting bright shiny night of impeccable music. For the second time in a fortnight I find myself wondering if I’ve just seen the gig of the year.
Panda Bear and Sonic Boom
Tval are on Facebook.