It seems perfectly natural to be wary of side projects - in an age where every bass player and his mother seems to have undertaken a solo career there is certainly a fair share of underwhelming moonlighters about - only serving to remind us that most bands really are a sum of their parts. But, as of yet, Deerhunter's guitarist Lockett Pundt has flown somewhat under the radar. This is his only UK date for a project that is touring its second full-length (the April-released Spooky Action at a Distance), and the abundance of demo and unreleased material online seems to imply an overwhelming urge to create on Lockett's part rather than a cash-in between Deerhunter tours.
People are still shuffling in as Brighton's Fear Of Men get heads nodding with their noir-wave tunes. Instrumentally, the four-piece are indebted to many a jangly-guitar post-punk band, but it is frontwoman Jessica Weiss's understated vocals that lend the dynamics necessary to keep this London audience from crowding the bar (though the odd single-file queue formed between sets must be idiosyncratic of this rather peculiar venue). 'Ritual Confession' is a strong point- finding harmony between sing-along pop and alienation, as Weiss declares "I'm a stranger to my kind" beside sticky-sweet choruses. Should they continue to develop along this manner, their debut at SXSW next year should be a triumphant one.
By the time His Clancyness take the stage the venue is getting very busy indeed. Not so much having a specific sound as churning out song-after-song of well-crafted guitar-music; His Clancyness are self-assured and pace their set with enough ups and downs to ensure each song is as memorable as the last. 'Summer Majestic' possesses a casual verse-swagger cradled between urgent choruses, whilst 'What Fury Can't Say' is a hypnotically repetitive number that is in many ways reminiscent of our headliner's day job - a middle ground between reverberated musing and 60's pop. Frontman Jonathan Clancy's performance is both sincere yet meticulously delivered, and his band seem equally invested in the music. All in all, this is a thrilling London debut.
Technical difficulties almost cause a false start to Lotus Plaza's set, but as the band begin with a loud and excitable rendition of 'White Galactic One' it is clear that this is no vanity-project: this is a band playing songs that stand on their own despite their associations. 'Strangers' is a technicolour burst of arpeggiated guitar and seductive vocals, with its decelerating ending showcasing the importance of the band that Lockett has pieced together for this tour. A drawn-out, ambient jam is followed by an immersive rendition of 'Come Back', and whilst there is certainly a spillover between Lockett's work in Deerhunter and here, the familiarity is inviting.
Whilst Lotus Plaza may be missing the spontaneous atmosphere that permeates much of Deerhunter's performances, they instead build upon the nostalgic element that is found in the latter's most delicate moments. This is perhaps best found in 'Remember Our Days' - an ode to Lockett's late grandmother, which subdues the audience into a state of calm. 'Eveningness' is a shimmery slice of dream-pop, and Lockett's somewhat sheepish crowd interaction is rather charming in its own way - you get the sense the bedroom-musician in him will always be prevalent over any connotations of being a "frontman". A relentless chant for more brings out the band for two last songs, and ending the set with the majestic 'Jet Out Of The Tundra' closes the evening on a satisfying note. The many different accents and languages overheard at the merch stand make it clear that some have made a real effort to make it here tonight and none of them seem to be leaving disappointed.