Will this Vilnius neo-psychedelic outfit convince the northern crowd?
Working their way north through England, Garbanotas Bosistas concluded their first UK tour at the Liverpool Sound City festival last Friday. Before that they played at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, as well as a launching their new album “Above Us” in London, a few secret Sofar Sounds sessions.
It is not new for Lithuanian artists to be playing in The Isles, but most of these gigs are usually aimed at the local Lithuanian community, as a little nostalgic Red Cross parcel from home. Garbanotas Bosistas, however, got into big festivals, on the same bill as Swans and The Alabama Shakes. This is a pretty big deal, guys.
The band received a highly positive response down South, supported by Lithuanian emigrants. With London having a large local Lithuanian population, the album launch and performance at the Great Escape festival in Brighton was bound to be a success. But will the band impress the more skeptical local Northern English crowd? I made my way up to Liverpool to find out.
This year’s Liverpool Sound City Festival was rather different from previous years. Instead of being spread out through the different bars and venues across the city, it was all situated in the derelict Bramley-Moore docks.
Garbanotas Bosistas have the sentimentality and sonic infrastructure to send the listener off into a drifting dreamy soundscape and they are well equipped to fill a room with chill-vibes…
While this is a very symbolic and interesting place to hold a festival, it introduced a logistical problem – the main stage, along with several smaller stages were located very close to each other and often you could hear three or four different bands playing loudly at the same time, all blending together into a notorious whirlpool of indie. Garbanotas Bosistas have the sentimentality and sonic infrastructure to send the listener off into a drifting dreamy soundscape and they are well equipped to fill a room with chill-vibes, but this unfortunate placement of the North stage where the band was playing was really going to put their appeal to the test.
But it seems like that’s exactly what the guys were thinking when they got on stage – we need to cut through, we need to go hard. Appearing only as a four piece, the band started off with a signature trippy synth drone, which surrounded the spectators like mist. And once the foggy textures got everyone dazed and curious the drummer started delivering beats that instantly got heads bobbing. The crowd was slowly being lured in.
Šarūnas, like a true gentleman, kept the banter to a minimum and after a brief delay and reverb-drenched greeting, the guys kicked of with Hound Dog, which provoked an increasing amount of movement from the crowd.
After Mantas’ slight Spinal Tap moment with the guitar amp, they ramped up the tempo even more and ended the song with a primal effect-laced scream. Everybody was on board the psychedelic train.
The band made a good call to switch the trajectory to pump instead of lull and continued the set with Trippy Love. Appropriately, it was a faster more thumping version of the song. The North stage was situated on the main passage way to access all the other stages and the catchy guitar lick from Trippy Love turned many heads of passers by and pulled them in for more.
Now that their confidence had been established, the guys turned it down a notch and went into Above Us. The spacious suspense-filled track punctuated with pauses, heavy drum hits and riffs brought in a sense of tension, there was no easy pattern to predict – everyone trying to anticipate what’s going to happen next. And after a long and intense build up section, the guys caught everyone by surprise and unleashed the catchiest licks yet paired up with wild rock’n’roll-flavoured echo-shouts and got the crowd jumping and screaming.
My scepticism evaporated completely when they brought everything back down again for a seriously far-out dark interlude and then gradually eased the beat back in again – they were teasing us! After a big round of applause and cheers the band went into the final track.
With both brothers taking position on keyboards the band signed off with an upbeat euphoric number, with an optimistic ascending melody that made it virtually impossible to stay still. The juxtaposition between the dreamy vocals and the pounding rhythm section was making everyone go loopy – pure psychedelic goodness. The good vibes indicator was showing 100%, as Šarūnas kept swapping between the keyboard and the guitar, delivering crazy driving solos. The final few chords rang out, and the half-hour set was over.
“They were f*king awesome! They’re the best I’ve seen so far!”
If I had my reservations about the band, I was most definitely convinced by their performance in Liverpool. But what about other festival-goers? I took my chance to ask around and gauge the reaction of the people who were watching the show. And, as expected it was pretty positive. “They were f*king awesome! They’re the best I’ve seen so far!” – Said a hyped-up group from Bristol. “I think they were really cool!” – A pair of local Scousers added – “We actually looked them up before we came and were really keen to see them.” Another Liverpudlian added that he really appreciated the honesty and love emanating from the stage – “They looked like they knew what they’re doing and they obviously had a really good time doing it, that’s really appealing.”
There we have it, the crowd has spoken. Garbanotas Bosistas can truly consider this tour a success. They have already outgrown their new record and they’re not showing signs of stopping. The band delivered what I believe many Lithuanian alternative bands still lack – convincing and honest stage presence and a reason to move your feet.
With such positive response from foreign audiences, they removed the warping “domestic support” factor from the equation and are steadily gaining momentum – their Twitter feed is full of shout-outs, they are getting noticed by international press. This could be the most successful Lithuanian rock’n’roll export yet.