Bosnian Rainbows – Live At The 100 Club, London

Omar Rodríguez-López's supergroup delivers...

The word "supergroup" can be a tricky term. It's one of those words that has a habit of raising expectations, and that's not always a good thing. Bosnian Rainbows are certainly an act who fit firmly into the supergroup category, made up of former The Mars Volta members Omar Rodríguez-López and Deantoni Parks, plus Le Butcherettes vocalist Teri Gender Bender, and Nicci Kasper on keys.

Considering this musical prog-punk pedigree, it's no wonder how hard it is to get close to the stage of London's 100 Club for the band's headline set. This intimate venue has built its reputation on being the place where numerous punk legends, such as Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Adicts, have cut their teeth.

This proves to be a fitting lineage for tonight's show. The low ceiling and tightly packed crowd give proceedings a sweaty house party feel. And as Bosnian Rainbows take the stage, cheers are hushed into near silence and the band launches straight into the sinister synths of 'Eli', the opening track from their forthcoming self-titled album.

The fact that the band have been constantly on tour since their inception in 2012 shines through as the four-piece instantly come together like a tightly honed machine. Rodríguez-López's virtuoso guitar work fits seamlessly with the pounding beats and rhythmic synths of Parks and Kasper.

It's clear, however, that the stage belongs to leading lady Teri Gender Bender. Having a name reminiscent of '70s punk icons like Poly Styrene is no accident. Her stage presence is drenched in gloriously exhibitionist spirit as she dominates the stage like a cross between Alice Glass and Patti Smith.

As the pulsing intro to 'I Cry For You' starts, she stands, head bowed with her arms visibly shaking. It's as though she's channeling the sound with her body and directing it out through the speakers like a disheveled voodoo priestess.

At one point during the song she begins lurching forward, before hitting herself square on the head with the microphone and launching herself off the stage and onto the crowd.

The intensity between the four-piece mounts as they break into 'Torn Maps', standing close and shooting knowing glances at each other. Then the full force of the track bursts forth and Gender Bender runs across the stage to meet the dumbfounded front row, before hurtling back to to join the rest of the band for an extended version of 'Turtle Neck'.

The closing track, 'Mother, Father, Set Us Free', which also serves as the closing track to their album, proves to be a well-chosen end point. Its dark pulses of fuzzy synths build insidiously under Gender Bender's visceral delivery. She breaks into an anthemic crescendo that sees her climb on top of the huge guitar amp at the back of the stage, standing aloft, gesturing wildly and smiling manically at the crowd. A point at which nobody is entirely sure what she's going to do next.

This ominous air of suspense is fitting to the intense tone of the night. Bosnian Rainbows deliver pure, unadulterated energy and inject enough adrenaline to keep the crowd going for days. "Supergroup" may be a tricky term, but tonight, this band earns it. 

Words: James Appleyard

Photos: Andrew Novell

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