In barely a matter on months, London four piece Palma Violets have gone from being a group of squatters on the Lambeth Road to possibly the most hotly tipped band in England. From hosting parties where their friends could dance, to selling out tonight's headline show at Electric Brixton. They are a prime example of “hype” - whereby a bandwagon is readied and every man and his dog jumps on. However, that saying, sometimes a band comes along that deserves such acclaim. But are Palma Violets one of those?
Emerging on stage to the crashing ‘Johnny Bagga’ Donuts’, the four set the tone for the rest of their set. Everything’s at 100mph with little opportunity for a break, but it showcases exactly what draws people to them. Their intensity and energy is incredible, with frontmen Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson scurrying around the stage, mimicking the classic Doherty/Barât delivery, all the while powering through material from their debut album. Highlights are of course the captivating ‘Best Of Friends’: “I want to be your best friend / I don’t want you to be my girl,” and the anthemic '14’ to close the main part of their set.
However, it is hard to pinpoint such highlights, because all of Palma Violets' songs seem to be based around the same template with what seems to be an obsession with being “raw” in the guitar thrashing sense. Thus each song is not too dissimilar from the last. It is unfortunate because there is no doubting their stage presence, passion and energy... it's just their tunes. Palma Violets have found their audience, made up of those too soft for Kasabian but too hard for Two Door, who crave anthems with little care for diversity or inventiveness. And it is one that will worship them for the foreseeable future.
Tonight they turn the entire floor into a pit of reckless moshing and crowd-surfers that even includes a guy on someone’s shoulders waving his crutches around. Everyon's having a great time, and therein lies the ambivalence to the answer. Yes, Palma Violets may lack the complexity and eloquence of certain bands in their shadows, but it is hard to begrudge them when they bring such joy to their fan base.
Tonight culminates in a chaotic frenzy as the band close their set with a new song, but are joined by members of the support bands with whom they jump around the stage and crowd dive. All the while the bouncers try to fend off a stage invasion, showing evidence of the band’s wish to create an intimacy between them and their crowd, allowing both to enjoy themselves together, whilst each feeding off the other.
One feels as if there is no distinct answer, because then one must explore what makes a band deserve success. Is it the originality in their song writing or in the enjoyment they project? If it’s the latter, Palma Violets most definitely do.
Words by Luke Nightingale