Torn away from black friday bargains, combinations of dads with sons, mums with daughters, singles, couples and groups filed in from the damp, but sparkling, Upper Street night.
Closets had clearly been raided and the assembled punters were decked out in a variety of checked shirts over Carter USM t’s atop a variety of 90’s style jeans and accompanied by DMs and converse with coloured laces; slowly but surely, they filled the Assembly Hall on this drizzly November evening, ready for a blast of Berries’ high octane 90’s grunge mixed with Jim Bob’s indie-punk-pop style.
A triangle is exceptionally strong- the most stable of all shapes. Berries– Holly, (lead guitar and vocals) Lauren (bass guitar and vocals) and drummer Lexi -embody this, such is their intensity, control and connection. Their energy hits us with a lead-laden punch as they begin their engaging, forceful set. The songs invariably start with a delicious spiralling guitar riff by Holly before multiplying into a punchy bassline and an insistent, heavy drumbeat.
Berries have a big toolkit to unpack, such is their obvious talent- and it all came out on Saturday in Islington. We could hear everything from AC/DC to Prince, with a dash of L7 and factor of The Jam…Pace builds through each song with intense guitars and edgy vocals, multiplying the complex sound with hooks that morph and change into different forms.
Holly, Lauren and Lexi are completely comfortable on stage- if their lyrics are edgy and troubled, their expressive faces show evident joy in communicating to the increasingly admiring and appreciative audience. Holly and Lauren move toward and away from each other in a musical response to the geometry of the songs. A ‘Wall of Noise’ builds, flows and ebbs as they go from song to song.
Holly’s voice is strong and confidently portrays the complicated music before Lauren joins her in harmony, entwining their engaging voices with the increasingly developing guitar.
Talking to Berries afterwards, Holly tells us that she and Lauren originally met in Norfolk before moving to London, (Lexi has recently joined the band). They went on to say that Holly usually starts a new song with an initial riff- she has the first idea a- they get the concept and just “go with it”, adding the lyrics and vocal melody afterwards. They tell us they write about mental health, strength, personal growth and rising above negativity and noise. For Berries, “Music is therapy”.
Soaring, electrifying guitar solos, a fuzzy, ardent, repetitive bassline combined with driving drums is the successfully repeated simultaneous equation for Berries- it works. As the band launch into their penultimate song, ‘We are Machines’, twitchy, tense vocals accompany the fast and furious beat, speeding up to a frenzy three quarters of the way through.
The sound is tight- accomplished, confident, with an ever-fluctuating time signature, as Berries finish their impressive and expansive set. The by now, thoroughly convinced crowd are nodding in time, waving their arms, happy … they get it. Holly and Lauren’s smiling connection and embrace at the end, with a look of triumphant satisfaction at absolutely nailing it -is a lovely, feel-good thing to see and says it all:
If Jim-Bob is 2+2=4, Berries are 2+1=hotdog. Their music adds up to a perfect number, divisible by 3.
BERRIES played Islington Assembly Hall on 26th November 2022.
Supporting Jim Bob
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