White Powder Gold – The Watershed, Newport Pagnell, June 15 2012
“So how did the tag, ‘Council Estate Indie’ come about then?” I ask.
I’m across the alley from The Watershed in an impromptu photo shoot. It’s midnight. Ben the photographer is snapping away in his studio with White Powder Gold, who have just come off stage. Chris (guitar), Corey (drums), Jermaine (vocals) and Jamie (beats, programmes and vocals), all dressed in black, look every bit the cool, fearless, professional band against the white backdrop.
“I’m glad you brought that up,” replies Corey. “It’s something a journalist wrote about us. It’s not something we chose. We’d never choose our own tag.”
“With us it’s all about the vibe,” says Jermaine, proudly. “People are always gonna say, ‘this sounds like this or this sounds like that’, but one day I might wake up and want to listen to rock all day, or one day it might be gospel, or roots, or reggae or dubstep. Our music is about creating a vibe and we use a lot of different influences in the process.”
And WPG certainly have that vibe. It’s easy to identify that the London-based quartet are music fans first and foremost, which is why, unsurprisingly perhaps, their set is packed full of passion and energy. Band and audience blur into one for much of the gig. Whether it’s vibe or vibrancy, both or something altogether different, I left feeling that I had been a part of something rather than just a spectator. Something unique.
In fact, by the second song in I find myself wondering how four lads with a guitar, drum kit, two mics and a small electronic box of musical tricks can make such an intense, yet well-focussed sound. Corey’s drumming reflects his confident personality, defined and unapologetic. However, the other three, despite being considerably quieter offstage, match him on. Chris stands astride the tiny stage, Les Paul in hand, like a colossus, equally comfortable with a ghosting funk rhythm as a searing, soaring solo. Jermaine and Jamie’s warm exuberance spill over into the crowd, as do they themselves, at regular intervals. I can understand where the ‘council estate’ tag came from, yet I still think it’s both unnecessary and desultory. Swearing for affect is like a hobbit with learning difficulties – it’s not big and it’s not clever. However, despite the need for a ‘parental advisory explicit lyrics’ sticker emblazoned across most of their songs, the expletives augment the cadence in the same way as they do to Billy Connolly’s material. It’s authentic, vital and unmistakably part of the vibe.
Offstage again and the boys are buzzing. The crowd are too. It’s been a real party atmosphere all night. And no sign of Russ Abbott anywhere! Jermaine and I discuss Don Letts and I know now, if I didn’t before, that White Powder Gold are in this business for the right reasons.
Real music with real energy. Go and see them. Get involved. Just don’t try and label them. It’ll be your own time you waste.