Despite the strangeness of a socially-distanced crowd, Charteuse provided a solid night of chilled indie-jazz.
There may have been some strange gigs in the pre-coronavirus world, but any gig since 2020 has no doubt been even stranger.
Birmingham-based band Chartreuse‘s live show at The Joiners last Thursday was no exception. For many people in the audience, this may have been their first in-person gig in over eighteen months. It was set out in the standard government-approved style: groups of no more than six scattered about on socially-distanced tables, complete with table service from a QR code. There was much less dancing than usual, and much more respectful foot-tapping and head-nodding.
However, despite the challenges, Chartreuse still managed to put on a good show. In fact, the socially-distanced setting seemed to suit them in a strange sort of way. Their music, a mix of indie, alternative, folk, and jazz, was mellow enough to feel right listening to it sat down.
Lead singer Michael Wagstaff’s vocals, a combination of the huskiness of Bon Iver and Matt Berninger of The National, mixed with the sweet harmonies of vocalist Harriet Wilson, created a soft and calming balance of voices that seemed to put a lull over the audience (and not in a bad way).
Tracks like ‘Midnight Oil’ provided a chilled softness to the show, while others like ‘Woman I’m Crazy’ erupted with electric guitar solos and heavier drums. It was these heavier tracks that gave the gig a much needed sense of diversity – without them, it may have risked blurring into one long indie snooze fest.
The standout of the night, however, was Wilson’s vocals. While Wagstaff served well with his low and gruff vocals, the tracks on which Wilson held the lead vocals seemed to win the audience over. Her hushed tone, similar to that of many popular female indie and pop singers right now, such as Billie Eilish, were captivating and calming all in one.
There is certainly something interesting about Chartreuse. Perhaps it is their use of jazz, which has been used in a lo-fi style by many indie artists recently (easy life‘s debut album comes to mind), or perhaps it is their sad, nostalgic lyricism which seems to be living in both the past and present. However, they definitely have a long way to go if they want to keep audiences interested.
Despite the awkward silences and long water-sipping breaks, Chartreuse managed to pull off an enjoyable night of quietly emotive indie-jazz. If you’re looking for a low-key evening of unobtrusive music, then this is the one for you.
Chartreuse’s EP Keep Checking Up On Me is available to listen to now via Communion Group. Watch the video for ‘Keep Checking Up On Me’ here: