Breton are one of those bands who inadvertently invite a sense of enigmatic cool to shroud them. Not only do they reside in BretonLABS, a former South London bank-turned-warehouse, where their artistic energies are free to experiment, they’re instinctively creative souls. They’ve produced award-winning video work and notched up credits across various multimedia platforms, and that’s before their music is even mentioned.
Tonight they play the Scala in King’s Cross. It’s their biggest UK headline show to date and marks the end of a run of live dates in Europe. It’s been seven months since they released their album ‘Other People’s Problems’ and they’ve already supported the likes of Tom Vek and Ghostpoet.
There’s a buzz flitting around the room as the five bodies file onto the stage. It’s impossible to dismiss the anticipation - and expectation - that Breton provoke in their audience. One of the most noticeable elements of Breton’s presence is the lack of arrogance or pretence about them. They exude a justified confidence but there’s nothing showy or try-hard about them. They can immediately disarm any sceptical critic.
The snap-kick of the drums whips like a starting pistol and jolts the stage into life. Opening track ‘15X’, taken from 2010’s ‘Sharing Notes’ EP, sets a high bar for the rest of the set. From the off, as video images accompany the tracks, Breton allow the audio-visual arrangement to speak for itself. The band themselves are clearly immersed in the sound they’re creating and unknowingly carrying the crowd along with them.
Three songs in comes the stuttering, jagged beats that can only belong to ‘Edward the Confessor’. The whole room is jerked into life whilst natural-born-frontman, Roman Rappak, edges and shuffles his way around the stage, mic in hand. They shift comfortably from gentler, melody driven tracks like ‘Hours Away’ to the synth-drenched ‘Interference’. The atmosphere they create feels instantaneous and effortless.
There’s a strong sense of togetherness from the group with layered vocal harmonies from each member adding further depth to the already hypnotic set. Even when the band members swap instruments for the final track, it’s seamless. Breton are a tight musical unit which is clearly reflected in the make-up of their complicated, multi-layered sound.
The attention of the room stays firmly fixed on them as they glide from indie pop influenced ‘Wood and Plastic’ with its swirling strings and bouncing chorus drums, into summer holiday sounding, synth-led, party hit ‘Jostle’.
The band speedily returns for a much-appreciated encore. Rappak grins as he says, “We couldn’t really leave like that could we? We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time!” And they proceed to play ‘Episodes’ as their finale.
Breton’s live set is certainly captivating. The heavily electronic foundation drives their music, it’s technical and intricate – there’s an array of synthesizers and Macs visible on stage - but it’s the humanness of Rappak’s voice and their easy stage presence that throws in a unique and unusual dimension. It’s this contrasting combination that has Breton breaking formats and leading their own path. Ultimately, they’re edgy but they’re also accessible.
Words by Sarah Williams
Photos by Matt Wash