Beat Mark on stage in Derby July 2013. Credit Phil Burgess

Beat Mark on stage in Derby. Credit Phil Burgess

Beat Mark
Hairy Dog, Derby
7 July 2013

French garage-poppers from the Ample Play stable are out on their first UK tour at the moment. We loved their debut Howls of Joy when it dropped earlier this year so headed off to catch up with them in Derby.

It’s a blisteringly hot day. The sun has shone all the long, long day. Dusk is falling but the heat has built up and a scorching Sunday has turned to a clammy evening.

But Beat Mark are anything but languid as they take to the stage of a dim room in Derby. The four members of the French band, whose debut Howls of Joy (released earlier this year on the Ample Play label) delighted with it’s surf-pop infused garage rock.

The grungier element of Beat Mark’s sound is more obvious on stage tonight; the solitary guitar chimes, fuzzes and chugs becoming a welcome anchor to stop you drifting in the hypnotic swirls emanating from the synths. It brings a little bit of Seattle grunge to their Britpop infused sound; a Pixies influence breaking through to match the influences of The Vaselines and Stone Roses that ebbed and flowed on the album.

The stand-out tracks from the debut are all present tonight – Son Thomas Hunter, Purple Glow, Breezing – and it’s like viewing the whole of pop history through a wondrous kaleidoscope. Influences are recognisable but are twisted into new shapes, coloured in a different hue.

They finish tonight with Move On (hear it on this five-track sampler), a growler of a track with an insistent dual vocal of ‘react, respond, think, dance, twist, move on’ building through the first half. It then becomes a spun out instrumental, swirling sounds colliding, growing bigger until eventually you’re pulled in and consumed by the song’s gravity. Despite casting a huge shadow the track never feels dark, just full of feeling. It might be unbound joy elsewhere in the set but it is a more physical sensation set forth in the churn and frenzy of the end.

The album still holds its own as we pass half-way in a year of prolific quality releases but live Beat Mark transform, showing that not only have they channeled the sounds of pop past and found a way to make it sound fresh, they’ve mastered the magic of making simple songs you’ll want to hear over and over, addicted to the giddy emotions they elicit.

Beat Mark continue their UK tour throughout July:

  • 10 July Buffalo Bar, London with the Lucid Dream
  • 11 July Undertone, Cardiff
  • 12 July The Macbeth, Hoxton, London
  • 13 July East End Live Festival London
  • 14 July The Hope, Brighton

You can get more information about them on the Ample Play website

All images by Phil Burgess.

All words by Sarah Lay. You can read more from Sarah on LTW here or follow her on Twitter.

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Sarah is a former editor of Louder Than War and a freelance music writer for numerous other publications online and in print. Co-owner of Reckless Yes Records she has put out music by LIINES, Pet Crow and lots of other awesome bands as well as put on shows by bands including Bivouac, Mark Morriss, Desperate Journalist and Dream Nails. She's an author, user experience designer and digital content strategist, as well as an occasional broadcaster. Sarah is a compulsive collector of coloured vinyl, a believer in the boogie and is in love with possibilities.


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