Lockdown 2020 was weird (not to mention pretty scary), right? I can’t even begin to comprehend how difficult it must have been for bands and touring artists to survive such an unprecedented anomaly. Pre-COVID, it wasn’t unusual for me to attend 100 gigs a year, so to suddenly be denied the exhilaration of live and in-the-flesh music – not to mention the social interaction – felt strange, unhealthy even. On the plus side, my gig buddy/photographer bitch excitedly shared with me his new discovery: a great newly-released album, Scarlet, by Spanish band, Rosy Finch, which we may well have otherwise missed. The album is gnarly, raucous and impassioned and the spirit and energy hastily injected itself into my bloodstream as I hoovered up all the band’s releases via Dutch independent, vinyl-only label, Lay Bare Recordings.
I was thrilled when Rosy Finch were announced to play the London leg of Desertfest, as I’d figured that I would have to travel to mainland Europe if I ever wanted to see them live. I guess sometimes dreams do come true and the mountain (or should that be “La Colina“?) comes to Mohammed, or at least The Devonshire Arms. My enthusiasm quickly turned to anxiety in April when I learned of the plight of Trigger Cut, who were stung by incomprehensible Brexit bullshit. As reported by The Guardian, the German, DIY punk band booked a UK tour of tiny, grassroots venues but were prevented from boarding the ferry at Calais by an overzealous jobsworth of a British border guard, who alleged the three musicians had completed the wrong paperwork. I was extremely fearful that the same terrible fate would unfold for Rosy Finch, but thankfully (due to an effective and hardworking management team) they flew into London without incident the day before their first ever UK appearance.
The Devonshire Arms (known colloquially as “The Dev”) is Camden’s long-standing, go-to goth/rock/metal bar with efficient staff and friendly clientele. It’s also the smallest venue involved with putting on bands at Desertfest this year, with a capacity of just 110, although I’ve no idea how that many people could comfortably cram into this place. I arrive rain-soaked, and the previous band, Lowen, have just finished, allowing the Rosy Finch trio extra time to set up and they maximise on it, running through a segment of “Lava”. A crowd drift in, unsure if the band have started for real, and when they suddenly stop playing, a guy near me disappointedly exclaims, “Aww, I was enjoying that.”
Finally, the moment of truth is upon us and the tiny dance floor is full as the lights fittingly turn to red as opener, “Vermilion” – taken from the band’s second album, Scarlet, upon which each song is named after a shade of red and tells a different character’s story ranging from love to violence – fires into life. It’s a chugging guitar workout with minimal vocals which showcases band founder/singer/guitarist, Mireia’s fretboard skills on her gorgeous, black as night, Gibson SG. Menacing rhythms accelerate, racing into the horizon and threatening to spin tales whilst spilling secrets into the ether. Thereafter, “Oxblood” is a swerving calling card of intent which is intensely satisfying in its raw fury as bassist, Oscar, delivers low-key, quasi-demonic backing vocals which compliment the atmospherics of the song as Mireia warns, “Don’t fall asleep or you’ll never see the sun”.
“Inferno”, from the band’s excellent 2022 Seconda Morte EP – inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy – teases with whispered beauty and builds to guttural roars. The track represents Dante’s walk through Hell and flutters between pale and dark, light and heavy, yin and yang, as the beauty and chaos of the universe amasses and awakens our primal instincts of fight or flight, regret and escape. Drummer, Juanjo, is a human avalanche of precision beats, death rolls and patient percussion. Around the five-minute mark, the track oddly triggers a distant memory of a small portion of Oceansize‘s epic “Massive Bereavement” and there are momentary subtle glimpses of fellow Mancunians Amplifier present in the accomplished and ambitious compositions which populate the musical landscape of the fiery Rosy Finch discography.
“Amaranto” is a thrusting fast/slow/faster hybrid that’s impossible to keep up with; it flows with Spanish lyrics and is punctuated with abrupt, heart-stopping beats and cathartic wails. “Lava” is the closest thing to flawless grunge pop that the band conjure today and it positively dazzles, winning over any reluctant punters and at the end of the song the crowd’s appreciation noticeably steps up a notch with whoops and applause of mass approval. “Paradiso” conjures the burnt desert and is sadly cut short (albeit at the seven-minute mark!) prior to the intricate acoustic outro of the studio recording, while “Ruby” boasts solid metal riffage as the vocals skirt between ethereal and deathly roars. A menacing bassline keeps the pace during the guitar reverb breakdown and Refused’s “Rather Be Dead” immediately springs to mind, which is a very pleasant surprise.
In-between song chatter is minimal and the band cram seven songs into their allocated 45-minute set. Oscar announces they have one more song but the sound engineer signals to the contrary, so sadly “Alizarina” is pulled, despite the crowd chanting for more. It’s a triumphant success of a performance which clearly sees the band winning new fans on this, their first excursion to Brex(sh)it Island. Hopefully, there will be more UK dates and tours to come in the near future, for Rosy Finch are a rollercoaster of eternal light and fuzzy dark rock ‘n’ roll. Their music may well embody elements of stoner, psych and riot grrrl, but they create a sharp pallet of broody colours from which they paint wild skies of their own design. Internally bleeding, forever pulsating; Heaven, Hell, fire and fearless mortality abounds. Open the door and let the inferno of swirling, pounding love that is Rosy Finch into your racing heart and bathe in its sludgy and euphoric majesty.
Set list: Vermilion / Oxblood / Inferno / Amaranto / Lava / Paradiso / Ruby
Rosy Finch will be playing the following shows in Spain over the coming months...
27th May: Madrid – Kristonfest
28th May: Zaragoza – La Ley Seca
30th June: Viveiro – Resurrection Festival
1st July: León – Babylon
16th Sep: Vizcaya – Inkestas
22nd Sep: Valencia – Peter Rock
23rd Sep: Murcia – Spectrum
Discover more of Rosy Finch’s music and follow them on their socials: Bandcamp / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Spotify / YouTube / Website / Linktree
Review by Mandy Bang @mandybang
Photos by Mandy Bang / Mark Dans L’Espace @mark_danslespace / Tim Bugbee (used with kind permission)
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