WAF Young Reviewer - Giant Folk
On Friday night, I went to see a group of musicians named Giant Folk play in All Saints Church, Tooting.
Giant Folk, based in South London, dabble in the reflective and soothing moods of genres such as folk and jazz. New on the scene with only three songs on Spotify, including a cover, I was interested in finding out more about this group by watching them perform because they have not been around long enough for me to fully know what I was getting into. During this night, one half of the group, a singer and electric bassist, played with an electric guitar player who also worked with a range of effects pedals to produce different electronic sounds. Throughout the night, they played a lot of standards and some of their own original songs, all of which worked to the advantage of All Saints Church’s intimate reverberation through their soft, varied dynamics.
The vocalist Rowan Flack’s performance felt like a main feature of the night. Her voice carried a consistently meditative tone, and whilst affected by pitch at certain points, felt like an egg being cracked on the head, with her voice calling to mind an intricate, thinly-voiced singer of the olden days, her scatting only sometimes drawing attention away from the guitar and bass player’s underpinnings. The guitar and bass player managed to combine both musical technicality with a sense of relaxed freedom; although they did not always stay on a consistent rhythm, they still felt completely in harmony with each other.
What was the most striking to me about the performers in general was the way in which they seamlessly combined improvisation with muscle memory. An element of their performance which I enjoyed outside of the music was the friendliness of the performers; a highlight of their set was when they played Rivers of March, a Jobim song, and vocalist Rowan Flack explained the length of the lyrics in an amused and self-aware manner, almost as if she were talking to a friend, not an audience.
A polarizing part of this performance for me was the inclusion of electronic effects; at some point I heard a sound reminiscent of TV static and I thought to myself; ‘is there a problem with the PA system? Why is that sound there?’ and I soon realized that it was the effects pedals being used; to me, it only worked as a sudden, disharmonic sound which distracted from the melodically varied, meditative playing of the rest of the music.
The caliber of Giant Folk during this performance convinced me enough to continue listening to their music, and stay tuned for their music in belief of their potential to achieve something even better.
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