Live Music + Gig Reviews

M(h)aol, Sprints + Thus Love @ Komedia, Brighton

4 February 2023

A trio of new acts combine for a joyously chaotic and rambunctious show on the south coast

M(h)aol (Photo: Naomi Williams)

M(h)aol (Photo: Naomi Williams)

As part of the celebrations surrounding Independent Venue Week the various members of M(h)aol, Thus Love and Sprints have undertaken a whirlwind stop gap tour of some of the smaller venues across the UK with each band taking a turn at headlining these joyously chaotic and rambunctious shows. Opening the tour in Brighton, on the day of release of their debut record, it’s M(h)aol’s turn to open the show and what a revelation they turned out to be.

If you listened to their Gender Studies EP or spent any time with tracks such as Bisexual Anxiety, Asking For It or Period Sex, then you’ll know the Irish quintet are downright fearless in their explorations of sexual nonconformity. What you might not have guessed from the inherent seriousness and brutality of their music is just how devilishly charming, talkative and upbeat front woman Róisín Nic Ghearailt can be. When someone congratulates the group on their recent four star review in the Guardian newspaper, Róisín jumps for joy and makes continued humorous reference to it through their set. Even when performing their most sombre of tracks, the group can’t contain their excitement and bounce around the stage. They spend the entirety of their time interacting playfully with the crowd and set the tone for a wild evening.

That exuberance is not lost on the members of Irish co-conspirators Sprints. Fired up by the opener’s boundless enthusiasm, they roar and growl their way through their catalogue and get the crowd virulently moshing around the tiny hall with delirious abandon. Whilst front woman Kala Chubb is a fiery lead, it’s guitarist Colm O’Reilly who can’t contain himself, lunging into the crowd mid solo, garnering rapturous applause for his apparent recklessness.

Headliners Thus Love know they’re the outliers in tonight’s proceedings. Over from the US for the first time, and also promoting a debut record, they make light of their awkwardness whilst performing some of the most punishing noise rock seen stateside in years. Combining the androgyny and romantic passive aggression of Placebo with the aural attack of groups like Sonic Youth and Pixies, they find inspiration from those who came before and unleash a fire that wasn’t readily apparent in them before. The trans Vermont trio, all charmingly named (Echo Marshall, Lu Racine and Nathaniel van Osdol), charmed the room and provided a surprisingly terse and gymnastic finale to an already limber ebullient night.

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M(h)aol, Sprints + Thus Love @ Komedia, Brighton