I’ll admit, Veronica Falls is a band that totally slipped under my radar last year and now I’m playing catch-up. Comprised of Roxanne Clifford (vocals/guitar), James Hoare (vocals/guitar), Marion Herbain (bass), and Patrick Doyle (drums/vocals), the quartet have been creating buzz by releasing singles since early 2010. But it was only in the fall of last year that their much-anticipated eponymous full-length made its debut, which garnered positive reviews from numerous online publications. Now people across the United States and Europe are taking notice of the London, England outfit.
Tagging along Veronica Falls on their tour was Bleached. Led by sisters Jessica and Jennifer Clavin, the group was formed from the ashes of Mika Miko. Being from Los Angeles, this night was definitely a homecoming and the crowd proudly welcomed them back home. By this point, the venue was rather packed as Bleached played songs off their numerous 7” and EP releases. Their energetic blend of garage rock and punk certainly injected the crowd with a shot of adrenaline.
Veronica Falls finally hit the stage, but unfortunately the crowd seemed to thin out quite a bit as it wasn’t as full compared to when Bleached took the stage. They opened with catchy number “Right Side of My Brain,” following it up with the Pixies-esque “Stephen.” Herbain’s bass lines are eerily similar to that of Kim Deal that provided the backbone to the song. They immediately jumped into the 60s-inspired surf rock number “Beachy Head” that demonstrated their ability to sing three different vocal harmonies that were as vintage as can be, coming from Clifford, Hoare, and Doyle.
“Found Love in a Graveyard” is an ironic song in itself, as indicated by the title. The haunting vocal melodies from Hoare and Doyle brought a more somber tone that contrasted to the bright, lively vocals of Clifford. Not to mention the catchiness of the lines such as “found love in a graveyard/I’m brokenhearted/dearly departed” that got the crowd to sing along.
Obviously, most of their set derived from their lone album. But being only around a half-hour or so in length, I wondered what other material they had in store. Fortunately, they played four new songs: “Bury Me Alive,” “My Heart Beats,” “Last Conversation,” and “Teenage.” All of the songs still contained their usual upbeat tempo and twee-pop sensibilities. They closed out the night with a cover of Roky Erickson’s “Starry Eyes,” which got a nice cheer from the crowd.
That’s not to say that their set wasn’t without its downsides. First, the vocals seem to get drowned out behind the instrumentation, making it somewhat difficult to clearly hear Clifford’s vocals. Second, the band didn’t do much crowd interaction other than to thank them or introduce a new song. Not doing more to establish a connection with the crowd keep the band a bit isolated, making it harder to keep an audience’s attention. Third, the lack of crowd interaction led them to barrel through their set, playing song after song. At times, that resulted in songs sounding the same. Lastly, it was disappointing to see that their entire set was only 45 minutes.
It’s easy to overlook these flaws frankly because they are still an upstart, young band. There’s no doubt that their music has easily caught on with a vast audience. Veronica Falls’ unique blend of twee-pop with 60s-pop and hints of post-punk make them primed for a breakout year in 2012.
Right Side of My Brain
Bury Me Alive
My Heart Beats
Found Love in a Graveyard
Come on Over
Starry Eyes (Roky Erickson cover)