Teiger at The Hope & Anchor

Support: Kunal Singhal| Cabiria
April 10, 2024 at The Hope & Anchor
Promoter: London Prog Gigs

Hosted by London Prog Gigs, tonight’s show brings together three forward-thinking artists at the intimate, storied Hope & Anchor venue for an eclectic musical mélange: featuring the inimitable vocal drones of Kunal Singhal, the eclectic post-metal of Cabiria, and the sparkling, unclassifiable power that is our headliners Teiger.  

As the brainchild behind Chaos Theory, promoters of weird and wonderful shows in the capital for many years, many of us are familiar with Kunal Singhal‘s voice as host; but his music might be new to some. Kunal frames his sets as experiments and works in progress – seeing what can be achieved with only a mic, a few pedals, and an open mind. Not to mention a fair bit of skill, despite modesty about his vocal accomplishments. 

Arriving late, however, following a long-distance train journey, I missed all but the final piece of Kunal’s set, so it was a shame I only caught a glimpse of how his solo show has developed since the first time I saw him perform in July last year. But what I did witness was a joyous, collaborative improvisation, which immediately broke down the barrier between crowd and performer. Beginning with Chris the promoter stepping up to intone the line “my clockwork heart” into Kunal’s mic, others followed suit adding vocal harmonies and melodies. Very quickly the piece transcended its humble beginnings, developing into something rich and powerful – all steered by Kunal, as smoothly as the curved fabric of the wonderful robed garment he wears. I can’t recall going from wolfing down a pre-gig falafel wrap to achieving sonic satisfaction so quickly. The music became a stereo soundscape, with other people in the crowd singing along either side of me, not caught by the mic. While Your Humble Reviewer was too timid to face the mic, it was impossible not to get caught up in the process and hum along. As Kunal says, you “catch a loop…feel its own rhythm.”  

This was not only very pleasurable to listen to but the piece became a unique, immersive experience – different depending upon where one stood in the crowd – and the participatory element helped establish the warm, friendly atmosphere which continued for the rest of the show. Kunal mentioned afterwards that he is currently focusing even more time on shaping his music, and I’m sure we’re all very excited to hear what else he’s working on.  

So, following that experience, how could the rest of the show not be great?  

I love a good power trio – there’s something about them that brings out the best in a musician – and we’re treated to two of them tonight. Cabiria may be doing something quite different to Teiger, but they’re the perfect complement. Instrumental and eclectic, Cabiria move effortlessly from post-rock soundscapes, monster doom riffs and stoner groove, through choppy, math puzzles and prog-rock journeyings. Their guitarist’s Brutus shirt showcases another wonderful and relevant power trio, with other musical touchstones including early Muse and Biffy Clyro, Russian Circles, Pelican, Tool, amongst many others from the rock milieu; and Cabiria have clearly digested all sorts of jazz and funk from outside of it, also.  

If this all sounds a bit bewildering, the unpredictability of their song structures is tempered with the reassurance that what comes next will make sense – and will be awesome. If Cabiria are going to drop into unison, two-handed tapping on guitars and bass – and boy do they do that! – you know it’ll be done with taste and panache. If they’re going to segue from one song to another using weird, skronky music box sounds, you’ll struggle to think of a better intro. If their drummer announces that this is one to bang your head to, your neck has little chance of survival; and if he slips in some blast beats along the way, it’s because extreme metal is the order of the moment.  

I was completely absorbed by Cabiria especially when the groove gets going and the crowd is all moving together, and when the mood is dreamy and we’re all far far away. They mention that their new album is finished and that tonight’s set consists of all new songs; so, judging by this, Cabiria’s second album will be an absolute belter and you’d be wise to catch them playing it live as soon as possible.  

Teiger are a different kind of beast. Like Cabiria they have an eclectic sound, but the different styles are woven together seamlessly rather than stitched side by side. It’s a sound that is difficult to classify, and entirely their own. Teiger are clean, sharp, and tight; dreamy, sparkling, and ethereal; heavy, groove-laden, and catchy. I’ve heard them described as ‘bright metal’ and ‘western rock’, which are helpful if not entirely comprehensive terms.  

Teiger’s singer and guitarist Talie Rose Eigeland, clad in Stetson and bolo-tie-esque necklace, certainly brings a cowboy style to the band. Her white electro-acoustic Kramer guitar is as distinctive as her clear, versatile voice and finger-picked playing style. And I could watch Teiger’s rhythm section jamming all day. 

Teiger’s Talie Rose Eigeland. Photo: Sara Benhs

Their set opens as does their self-titled debut album with the short instrumental ‘The Crawl’ – a kind of shimmering, scene-setter and atmosphere-builder – which segues into ‘Sahara’, consolidating the desert vibe, and establishing the choppy, tight groove that often defines Teiger’s style (“…until we meet again”). Amidst Talie’s chords, Teiger’s bass player is heads down, in the zone, delivering nuanced but never busy lines, while their drummer peppers his sparse rhythms with wonderfully expressive snare rolls.  

‘Luna’, the first of two new songs aired tonight, seems very apt for a show occurring a few days following the Total Solar Eclipse (which Your Humble Reviewer comprehensively failed to witness). Reminiscent of my favourite moments from Pink Floyd’s The Wall (I think it’s ‘Hey You’ I’m thinking of), it’s a song with a mysterious, airy feel, shaped by some lovely (suspended?) guitar chords. There’s something hypnotic about the guitar figures, something glorious about the bass/vocal break, and something subtly virtuosic about the bass-player’s well placed volume swells.  

‘Chalkduster’, the second new song, is completely different: built on a dirty bass groove and a western twang, it builds and builds with each rolling cycle and showcases Teiger at their heaviest and most direct. 

With a cheeky smile to her friends in the front row, Talie announces that “this next one is called ‘Splinter’” and they launch into a clearly well-rehearsed version of their latest single. Recent winner of Prog magazine’s Track of the Week, ‘Splinter’ galvanizes an already energetic crowd into sensual dancing, with many singing to all the words. Again, it’s the choppy rhythms and staccato vocal delivery, mixed with colourful flourishes of guitar effects and warm bass furrows, that make it all so compelling.  Looking around the venue during the track’s instrumental breakdown – adorned with a dense topography of band stickers, a kaleidoscopic array of lights, and a soundproofed ceiling like a stalagmite cave – it’s as if Teiger’s bright psychedelic doom is written on the walls.  

 

“Does anyone remember Portishead?” Talie asks at one stage, signalling the solitary cover song that Teiger play. “Well, we’ve got it covered,” she quips. I’m pretty sure that tonight’s audience is – like Your Humble Reviewer – mostly of an appropriate age to recall Bristol’s finest band, and especially their incredible hit ‘Glory Box’. Most of us seem to know the words, at least. Portishead are not an easy band to cover, yet Teiger don’t just pull off the song: they achieve the best parts of the original whilst making it their own, especially through their interpretation of the original’s scratchy beat break (“it’s time to move over”). 

Teiger’s penultimate song tonight is my favourite, ‘Hydra’, with its stirring refrain, “It changes everything. You’re changing everything. You’re changing every little thing.”  I think it’s the combination of those danceable refrain sections, a punkish key change, a brief swirling interlude, and the soaring conclusion that does it for me.  

Tonight’s set finishes on the track ‘The Law of Diminishing Returns’ (“something we can all relate to”) as does Teiger’s album. With its rolling rhythms, eerie, ethereal vocal lines, insistent bass thuds, Arabic scale, and heavy chords, it’s certainly a memorable song: and with its sudden stop on the last beat of the line “you do the same thing anyway”, it makes for a powerfully dramatic conclusion to an all-round excellent evening.  

Teiger. Photo: Sara Benhs

 

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