On Saturday night, Londonist was entertained by sixteen young women who left us breathless and excited (not a sentence you will read here often). As headliners of the Transgressive label night for the HMV Next Big Thing series, Gaggle self-identify as an 'alt-girl choir' who write their own material, making them a world away from the likes of the similarly all-female Scala Choir and their repertoire of (occasionally kinky) cover songs.
While indie choirs The Polyphonic Spree and I'm From Barcelona are straight outta Tweeville, this one freely hands out sonic smackdowns with existential mantras like I Hear Flies (see below); other songs including the contrapuntal Cigarettes and one dedicated to 'the lying bastards' (i.e. men) are vicious, viscous and vociferous.
Their stage attire is also defining contrast to the standard conformity of other choirs. Dressed like a lost tribe, each of the women is colourfully adorned, some with headdresses and all with random strident makeup. Gaggle have been around for a few years and garnered supportive reviews last year. We hope they make it big in 2011.
Their support acts are above the usual cannon fodder. Dry Like A River are one-trick ponies but with one hell of a trick. They eschew standard song structure by starting with the singer giving us some soprano indie twang a la Tim Buckley before the tempo, drama, vocals and guitars steadily build on a one-way journey to a fiery crescendo. Is that a ballad in their pocket or they just happy to rock us?
We didn't see much of Marques Toliver but, what we saw, we liked. His falsetto singing while plucking a violin or playing a keyboard was suited to the Borderline's intimate environment and decidedly different. We wish him all the best.
Here's a taster of Gaggle and their debut single I Hear Flies.
You can follow our coverage of HMV's Next Big Thing 2011 here.