Magic Mountain at Headrow House, LeedsSupport: Treeboy & Arc| Jon Jones & The Beatnik Movement
October 9, 2017 at Headrow House, Leeds
Promoter: Come Play With Me
The launch show for the eighth single released on Leeds based record label and social enterprise, Come Play With Me, was a showcase for the new Leeds ‘supergroup’ Magic Mountain, comprised of members of Pulled Apart By Horses, Menace Beach and The Grammatics. Jon Jones & The Beatnik Movement & Treeboy & Arc provided support for the night. This was a three-headed beast of a line-up that had the potential to post sky-scraping riffs, thunderous drums and apocalyptic post-punk. Tom Sloman went to go find out the acts could live up to their mouth-watering potential.
The excellently named Jon Jones & The Beatnik Movement had the task of kicking the night off. Often, first support bands are met with indifference or a small audience, but not Jon Jones & the Beatnik Movement. Their immensely heavy pitch-shifted riffs were met with delight and outbursts of headbanging from an impressively busy crowd. Their dense noise rock sound had a slightly psychedelic twist with the reverbed vocals of singer Joe bouncing against the riffs of guitarist Giles like a metallic bungee cord. Jon Jones’ performance was a testament to the heavier side of the Leeds’ music scene.
Second up were the fast rising Treeboy & Arc, who were filling in for Lumer who pulled out due to illness. Treeboy & Arc were a worthy last-minute addition, bringing a vitriolic, tight post-punk energy to the proceedings. This was a contrast to the sound and fury of Jon Jones, showing a commitment to eclecticism from the organisers, Come Play With Me. Their opening track instantly showcased their gift for dynamics, allowing interlocking death surf-guitar patterns to share space with outbursts of intense noise. Later on, a synth was added to their sound, pushing the songs beyond well informed post-punk into something more original and invigorating. A highlight of their set was the new single, ‘Merge’, which interspersed synth onto a mixture of howling vocals and tempo shifting drums that climaxed with a wild tornado of guitar solos. Treeboy & Arc were compelling and are definitely ones to watch when their EP comes out on December 1. Ignore them at your peril.
Magic Mountain came onstage to finish the night off, immediately shaking the foundations of Headrow House with their thumping opener, powered by the brilliant drumming of Nestor Matthews and the prowling bass grooves of Tom Hudson. Guitarist Lins Wilson provided cutting Josh Homme style riffs that cut through the bass and drums, providing a much-needed contrast to the low-end heft. Magic Mountain were a different proposition to the previous acts, with a sound closer to that of American garage rock luminaries Ty Segall, Wand and The Meatbodies.
The twin vocal harmonies of Tom Hudson and Lins Wilson were a standout feature of Magic Mountain’s set, elevating the songs beyond mere riffage by providing hooks that instantly stuck in the mind. Lead single ‘Zodiac’ was a thrilling example of this, played at a thrashing tempo with screeching guitar lead-lines greeting woozy stoner-rock vocal harmonies, culminating with a searing blast of guitar from Wilson.
Magic Mountain are still a work in progress, with Hudson jokingly saying, “last week our set was only 20 minutes so we wrote a new song and learned a cover to make it 24!” There is a great deal to look forward to if they can translate the energy of their live show into recorded tracks, adding more variety to their crunching sound and pushing those harmonies further.
This gig was a brilliant example of the continually flourishing Leeds music scene. Three great bands playing with sound, fury and precision to an energetic and enthusiastic crowd hungry to support new music. Jon Jones & The Beatnik Movement provided a crunching set of dense noise rock, Treeboy & Arc brought post-punk incision into the mix and Magic Mountain topped it all off with hook-heavy garage rock riffs and spacey harmonies. If future Come Play With Me gigs can continue to showcase quality such as this then Leeds may truly be on the cusp of something special.