Live Report: Molchat Doma – Thekla, Bristol

The Belarusian trio lives up to the hypnotic hype...

It's on a suitably icy eve that CLASH finds itself descending into the bowels of a boat to catch cold wave act, Molchat Doma. With The Cure being pumped out from the P.A. and Thekla's live room being packed to metaphorical rafters, the scene is set for an evening of gloomy fun. Perched on the second floor behind some wire mesh, the whole vibe is almost identical to the opening of Tony Scott's cult vampire flick 'The Hunger,' a sea of black hair dye and pale faces giddily awaiting below. It would be fair to expect many attending to be here on curiosity factor alone. After all, it's not often you get some 80s in-debted Russian language tunes being played live in the South West, but this is not the case. The crowd is loyal, eager, and rampant to see the trio get stuck in – and boy do they.

Egor (vocals), Roman (guitar, synthesizer, drum machine), and Pavel (bass guitar, synthesizer) quietly walk on stage to riotous applause before beginning a near two-hour set that’s tighter than a drum skin. Last year, boosted by Bandcamp buzz and TikTok memes, the group signed to American indie label Sacred Bones Records before the pandemic scuppered their touring plans. This fallow year doesn't seem to have done anything to damage the group's upwards trajectory; however, the sold-out show a fascinating cross-section of old-school goths, drunk indie-kids, and rowdy lads from Cardiff who sing-along to every melody and beat. The tribes of old have dissolved, and Molchat Doma’s trance-like numbers are greedily accepted by all walks of life.

With programmed drums and track after track blending into one hypnotic whole, there was a worry that the band could come across as repetitive when stretched over a long set time. CLASH needn't have worried, however, each number being delivered with such confident cool that you couldn't help but sway along. Special props must go to Pavel’s deceptively groovy bass work, elevating the music above mere dirge to something you want to revisit. Similarly, with his thousand-yard stare and raw intensity, Egor makes for a captivating frontman in a genre that could easily fall into the wrong side of pretension.

The outfit, jumping between post-punk atmospherics and more danceable fare played on three synthesizers, revealed a calm command of the sonic lane they've chosen while hinting at a future where more dreamy and, dare we say, pop flavoured material might be on offer. One thing is for sure – they're only going to go on to bigger things.

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Words: Sam Walker-Smart

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