Live Review: Sex Witch at Green Man Festival 22.08.15

There had been much curiosity surrounding the identity of the mystery guests who were booked in the Saturday evening of Green Man festival. Names had been thrown around, but no one really knew for certain. With the lack of internet in the Brecon Beacons, it remained to be seen who would the big name would be. So when a packed tent heard the announcer welcome on stage ‘Sex Witch’ there was a smattering of applause followed by a questioning rumble.

The band took to the stage (who we hadn’t realised at the time were actually TOY), but it wasn’t till the graceful figure of Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes walked on stage that people started to clock something big was coming. From the moment Sex Witch began to play, it was clear that this would be something very different to Bat for Lashes usual deal. There was no ‘Laura’ here, no ‘All Your Gold’. Natasha Khan thrashed around on stage as Toy’s drone like, bass driven Post-Punk.

There was something inherently dark about Sex Witch’s set; if they hadn’t been performing you could have quite easily been watching a satanic ritual. The easiest way to describe is by comparing it to an exorcism. Khan barely stood still throughout the entire set; she strutted and writhed about the stage as the music engulfed her, screaming and shrieking into the microphone. Sometimes it was difficult to tell if we were watching a woman channelling Bjork or mimicking being burnt at the stake.

The accompanying music was just as hypnotizing as the action happening before it. The rhythmic beats saw a combination of modern post-punk rock with aspects of shoegaze, finished off with underlying world music beats that, when combined with the bass, created a perfect driving tribal rhythm. Once you brought together this music with Khan’s shrieking and possession like dancing, you had something hypnotising. The entire performance had the majority of the audience transfixed.

It wasn’t for everyone however. After the first song, ‘Ghorooba’, the response was still slightly lacklustre. People were still not entirely sure what they were watching; was this Bat for Lashes new album? Was this a one off? As the set progressed, people began to get more into the music, feeling the rhythms, but no one was quite prepared to lose it, not while this music was so new. Khan seemed to understand; ‘thank you for having us’ she said ‘we know you don’t know who we are.’

The entire set was brought to a climax with ‘Kassidat’, as controlled chaos reigned in the Far Out Stage. Sex Witch had certainly made their mark on the festival, and begun their live journey. It was an exhilarating, mesmerising set that sent your heart pounding. Over time, the reactions to their work will change as their music becomes more established. But for now, this was one hell of a way to kick off Bat for Lashes, Dan Carey and TOY’s project.

Sexwitch played:

Ha Howa
Lam Plearn
War in Peace
The Bride

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