I’ve been known to head to several gigs in one day, today was no exception. I began with Henge at The Fleece earlier in the day, a cosmic experience that was drenched in synth and camaraderie. In complete contrast to the interstellar beats that Henge offered, my evening was filled with slick hip hop and neo-soul warmth. Heyouki are an 8-piece powerhouse, oozing contemporary jazz and J Dilla influences, their set was polished and frontman Jamie Iles provided plenty of on-stage banter.
I walked in just as the support for the evening were about to start, quintet Part Time Models that describe themselves online as “Swansea University students”. They definitely had the student-band-vibe, lacking a clear identity or vision. It didn’t help that after every song, 3 of the 5 members would change instruments which felt unnecessary and highlighted the differences in playing ability. It only made things distracting and a little awkward.
Performing easy listening folk tunes which were reminiscent of Noah And The Whale, their set was pleasant as best. The lead guitar solos, while standing out as some of the best playing of the set, reeked of the middle aged male fantasy a-la Eric Clapton or Noel Gallagher. The few sparks of brilliance (such as the 4 part harmonies that appear towards the end of the set), show a potential that very well might bloom over the course of 2020.
“We’re gonna teach you the importance of drinking water!” frontman Jamie annoucned. A stronge opening line and one that sparked my attention. A ridiculous keys player and a charismatic frontman, he would play with his right hand and gesticulate with his left whilst also rapping. There were slick bass lines and rich and brassy horn sections to accompany the – quite frankly – hilarious and engaging lyrics. “Watch my money fall like flour through a sieve” was one that sparked my interest and also made me laugh out loud.
I got some serious Alfa Mist meets Thundercat vibes it was tight and comprehensive, you wouldn’t have thought it was their third gig ever. Ending each song Jamie would chant his mantra “stay hydrated, stay blessed, stay true”, seemingly this is their brand, hydrated neo-soul definitely has its place in the city. Heyouki’s two vocalists each brought serious vibes to the stage, Annie Scholfield added a touch of Dido whilst Tara Klein’s smooth vocal/spoken word number packed a punch.
The finale saw Lyle Anderton on trumpet and Oli Morris on sax exchange furious licks, with Ollie using his pedalboard to the max which transcended the number to another dimension. Heyouki are yet another example of the thriving jazz and neo-soul scene the city has to offer and I look forward to catch them in the future for more hydrated endeavours.