It’s been over a year since I got obsessed with Pumarosa’s ‘Priestess’. That epic seven-minutes track stayed stuck in my head and playlists for weeks. It was so different, so anthemic and so brilliant that turned me into an instant admirer of the London-based industrial spiritual outfit. New cuts kept coming out, sharing a unique touch and feeling which Pumarosa use to coat their work. Ahead of the release of their debut album, ‘The Witch’, the band embarked a tour around Europe, with a headline at Oval Space in East London. I couldn’t miss it, clearly.
When I get to the industrial-like venue, Dan Carey and Gilles Kwake Bass are warming up the place with their DJ set, getting people ready for the stunning night that was waiting ahead. Tirzah climb on stage later to perform a short set filled with her unique electro-pop signature. Finally, Jamalia and Fernanda Munoz-Newsome – sister of Pumarosa’s frontwoman – take the central space of the venue to perform an intriguing yet gripping piece of contemporary dance. It feels magical.
It’s half past nine, when Isabel & Co. finally take the stage to kick off with the majestic ‘Dragonfly’, the latest cut off their debut album. Their silhouettes against the background lights emphasise their musical aura and the atmospheric sounds serves as the trigger for a stunning live set of mesmerising instrumentation and warm, raw vocals. As a follow-up, two of their piece of resistance come: ‘Cecil’ and ‘Honey’. The two pieces feel and sound better than their recorded version, proving how this band are making their way up to the headlining status.
Cuts from their upcoming work follow shortly. Industrial and experimental sounds, yet pleasant and easy to listen, are the common ground for all these unreleased tracks that only build up our expectations on this band. ‘The Witch’, title-track for their debut album, is at the same time captivating and unsettling. “Teach me how to learn. Tell me I’m an animal and without you I’d be lost” sings Isabel, while performing a captivating act. She is a haunted frontwoman that drags you with her, that takes your attention immediately and who knows how to bring together a skilled band comprised of experimental rockers that back her up.
After ‘Red’, it’s time for ‘Priestess’, their masterpiece. The crowd vibrates and the four-piece know this is their highlight, the moment to turn those skeptical ones on the floor into believers. It feels like an out-worldly experience, Isabel looking towards the infinite throwing her arms to the crowd in hypnotizing movements while the tune is building up to the saxo-driven climax. She shouts the lyrics, “You dance, you dance, you dance” and we can’t do other than that. It all would just be worth it for that moment.
They close their set with ‘Snake’, going back on stage for that “one more song”, ‘My Gruesome Loving Friend’. They keep on thanking the crowd all for being there and tell to stay around while Dan and Giles take up the control again, filling the venue with their vibes. We leave speechless, replaying the highlights of the night in our heads.
Pumarosa still feel not-so-confident about their strength. Funny enough, Isabel confesses they are always worried that nobody will show up to their shows. Perhaps it’s that vulnerability and fears that allow you to instantly connect with their unraveling and dark stories because we all have once felt what they sing.
They are not anymore a band to watch, they are already a band to follow.