Image Credit: Andrew Benge, Counterfeit Magazine
It was with mixed expectations that I arrived in Bristol on Tuesday; on the one hand, I knew The Hunna’s capacity for catchy songs would probably lend quite well to the atmosphere of a reasonably small venue like SWX, but I honestly wasn’t sure how big the audience would be. The band has had moderate success since their launch in late 2015, especially among the teenage demographic, but this gig was on a school night. I needn’t have worried in any case; when we arrived, the queue wrapped around the block, full of glitter-covered girls and boys sporting top-knots. We were some of the first in, and so had a good vantage point to watch the venue fill up to capacity, albeit with an audience slightly more school-aged than university.
The gig opened with a band called Kovic, who unfortunately had a few sound issues in their set, but they took it with good humour, the lead singer’s bravado playing it off especially well. When they first emerged on stage, they all had their hoods up, playing the first few songs like this, which gave the impression that they were uncomfortable onstage. However, they soon relaxed and came into their own, chatting with the audience between songs and getting them excited for the main act yet to come. Despite being fairly unknown, they got the crowd jumping around enjoying themselves, with an assortment of upbeat pop songs and some slower ballad types.
The follow-up support act was High Tyde, a band who, like The Hunna, have come into moderate success recently, slipping their way into Spotify’s Indie List and gigs at festivals like Dot 2 Dot and Reading. They interacted with the audience a lot, telling them to jump around and mosh, even persuading them to form a wall of death at some point, which, to be honest, seemed a bit extreme for their music, which has the sort of summery vibe of old-school Two Door Cinema Club. There was little variation in the songs they played, and they spent so much time egging on the kids in the audience who were having the time of their lives moshing and crowd-surfing, that it became more entertaining to watch the crowd than the performance.
Finally, The Hunna, the band we all had been waiting for, made their way onto the stage at around half nine. They opened with one of the fan-favourites, You and Me, without any preamble, storming into the chorus to the delight of the crowd, who were all singing along. So many of the songs appealed directly to the young audience, who were going wild amidst the lead, Ryan Potter’s, exclamations of “This next song is about being young and doing crazy fucked-up shit”, or “Bristol you’re fucking beautiful”. After singling out and complimenting a guy up on someone’s shoulders, the next song, She’s Casual, had nearly every other person up on shoulders – security were delighted. Symptomatic of being a band of millennial, their phones were never far away, giving them the opportunity for multiple selfie breaks, and even at one point, an unfortunate friend calling them to FaceTime, unaware they were performing. Testament to their rising stars, most of the songs had a huge audience reaction, whether from singing along with the band, or creating various moshing circles probably more suited to summer festivals than a small Bristol gig in January, but this just stood as evidence to the fun the band elicits. They are not only huge amongst their fans however, for the band announced shortly before playing Piece by Piece that it would soon be Radio 1’s Track of the Day, a huge achievement for any indie band.
They sang all of their hits, wrapping it up with their first, and arguably most famous, single, Bonfire, which had the entire venue jumping and singing along it seemed. Their break before their encore only seemed to last about 10 seconds, and they emerged bizarrely without shirts, and bassist in a cowboy hat for some reason. Despite their odd appearance, the audience was on board for the two songs they played, World Is Ours and Bad For You, both big favourites and culminating in the lead jumping into the crowd to crowd-surf. Between these last two songs, the band took the time to thank everyone for their support, announced that their next album would be out this year, and that they’d be back in the studio recording it after their tour.
After attending The Hunna gig, although I had my doubts, with the passion of the fans in the audience and the sheer number of them on a Tuesday night gig, I feel the slightly cringe-worthy words of Ryan Potter might ring true: “Hunna-mania has just begun”.