I’ve walked past the Phoenix Public House a million and one times and never so much as had a beer in the cosy front bar, let alone seen a band in the venue. As I stepped in there, I found myself wondering how this could possibly be the case. I nervously propped myself against a questionably structured railing in the corner of the room and was completely smitten with the place. It carries a similar charm to the East Brunswick Club and it’s wider than it is long, forcing everybody to squish right up to the stage, an attribute that is overlooked in many venues, but can really make the difference in creating an atmosphere for a band to thrive off.
Nobody needed an excuse to move forward when Harmony entered the arena though. The place was already packed out and there was an undeniable buzz surrounding the band. Maybe that’s because they were there for the launch of their single, Heartache. Maybe it was because they were awarded the Best New-Ish Act in the Mess + Noise Reader’s Poll. Or maybe it’s just because they play fucking good music. Whatever the case, word had obviously got around and the anticipation was plain to see, but it was also custom designed to shatter any high expectations.
Luckily though, the six-piece didn’t disappoint. Harmony’s formula is simple, but their power cannot be ignored. Three female vocalists form a chorus section that provides foundations for smooth, soulful balladry, but this is cleverly counteracted by guitarist and lead singer Tom Lyngcoln’s raw, bluesy riffs and his hauntingly harsh wailing. It is through this balance, or lack thereof, that makes Harmony’s live set so compelling. In stand-out tracks such as Cacophonous Vibes and Black Bobs, the gloomy, gospel harmonies gives Lyngcoln space to howl and growl over the top, and boy, that boy can sing, to the point that it was surprising he even used a microphone.
It was clearly visible that the crowd weren’t disappointed either, and there was no way they could be. Harmony owned the room that night, and their animated swagger was eye catching and every song was delivered with enough conviction and enthusiasm that even if you didn’t like the sound of a song, you thought you were wrong.
Although the performance didn’t boast any particularly catchy ‘hooks’ that are going to have you humming all the way home, that’s not what Harmony is about. Instead, the band’s set is structured in a way that throws you on a powerful, emotional journey, taking hold of you, intimidating you and threatening not to let go. It was loud, raw and melodic and it captivated me from beginning to end, leaving me confused, depressed and exhausted – in the best possible way.
LOVED: The unquestionably enthralling Cacophonous Vibes.
HATED: The rickety railings.
DRANK: James Squire Four Wives pilsener – not a bad drop.
BY CALLUM FITZPATRICK