Review: Temples of Youth at The Notes Cafe, Southampton

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Local two piece electronic group Temples of Youth played to a bustling audience at The Notes Cafe in Southampton city centre on the last Friday of September. The duo, based out of nearby Winchester, comprise Paul Gumma on guitar and Jo Carson on percussion with the pair sharing vocals. Gumma and Carson began work on their set in December of last year with the intention of introducing their music to a live setting with a limited number of hands, making skilled and ample use of samplers and effects to project their signature sound. Comparable in places to London Grammar, Daughter and Beach House, Temples of Youth nevertheless brought an intensely emotional and personal performance to the stage of The Notes.

Opening for the headline band was south coast tropical trip-hop artist Frankie Knight who, with support from XVI Records, brought out her second release White Lies halfway through August of this year. She played tracks from that EP and from her first release, Wade, to an already vibrant and excitable crowd. In between songs she conversed freely and wittily with her audience who replied in kind with whoops and further chat. ‘Beautiful Bodies’ reflected that enthusiasm, a bouncy infusion of hip-hop vocals and fluid synths that saw toes tapping beneath the table tops and fingers drumming around glasses of pink gin and tonic. ‘Keep On Moving’ excited similar motions and brought the sound of the jungle to frosty Southampton, washing over the gathered crowd with soothingly ethereal samples and soft, husky vocals. Knight closed her set to jubilant applause from staff and patrons alike with scattered calls for “more, more!”.

Now suitably energised, The Notes welcomed Temples of Youth with delighted cheers and the band followed in the spirit of revelry that Knight had stirred up with her performance. Utilising similarly rhythmic samples supported by Carson’s percussion for added oomph, but with a heightened sense of urgency and depth beneath the shimmering melodies, Temples of Youth started as they meant to go on with a fantastic opening. Their most recent and celebrated single, ‘Churches’, was featured on BBC Radio Solent’s Introducing slot on Saturday 1st October and brought gentle liquid tones to their live performance the night before. But the winning feature by far of ‘Churches’ in particular, as well as their other releases too, is the interplay between Carson’s utterly powerful female vocals and Gumma’s hauntingly soft guitar. Such a dynamic contrast made for pleasantly easy listening on the night despite the difficult and heavy themes that the lyrics dealt with. Temples of Youth make refreshingly thoughtful electronic music, the full sapiency of which really comes through in a live setting. ‘Dunes’ and ‘AM’ followed in similar fashion with slow, hazy flows that seemed almost sultry as they gently effervesced around the room. The band closed the evening with their first track, ‘Enso’, which saw Gumma step forward and unleash the full extent of his skill on the guitar in spectacular riffs and melodies. The pair walked off stage to well-deserved and exuberant admiration from the audience after a truly stellar performance.

It was, to my mind, perfectly fitting for two rising stars like Carson and Gumma to play a venue like The Notes, which is itself rising as a multi-purpose music venue in the heart of Southampton. Being one of the very few places in the city where an audience can sit comfortably, cradle a drink and listen to a variety of different live acts depending on the evening’s roster, it was the ideal place for Temples of Youth to debut their headline act.

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MA English student at the University of Southampton and alternative music correspondent for The Edge.

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