Putting on a gig isn’t cheap. On top of various other costs, the venue needs renting, the equipment needs transporting, the sound man needs a wage and the staff need a reason to not be at home. WU LYF bypass most of the expense caused by the last group by opting for a location devoid of a bar and making their homecoming-of-sorts show at glorious (and presumably not inexpensive) Saint Peter’s Church a bring your own bottle affair. But still, even without an entry fee, it’s doubtful that the two bouncers who take turns manning the doors will have turned up for free, or that the two portaloos outside were there as a favour. Similarly, there aren’t many bands that have one 12″ single to their names that could afford a 6 foot tall cross as a prop, nor have their own assortment of logo-emblazoned denim jackets. Indeed, the very show itself marks the end of a three week stint of practising at the venue – a luxury that scant few other bands could even dream of, and there’s more than a sense that there’s some big money coming in from somewhere behind the scenes, and if rumour is to be believed it’s likely that Warner are footing the bill.
If questions about the financing of the band loom large, questions about their future must also do so. Having spent the past year or so getting low-level media into a frenzy with their cryptic online presence, their A&R baiting ways and their purposefully mysterious manner, where can the band go from here without being considered a failure in some way? You can’t achieve mega stardom and still be unfathomable, whilst many people have long since tired of their obtuse antics. However, from the very start of their set, it’s clear that they are utterly abundant with the ability to be whatever they want to be. There are plenty of good unsigned bands, most of which will probably never go anywhere. But in Ellery Roberts, Wu Lyf have a singer that puts them a cut above any of their contemporaries, possessing the kind of instantly recognisable growl that can’t be taught, turning pop songs into aching odes of yearning unfulfilled.
Coming out of their self-imposed exile from performing, the show was ostensibly to celebrate the recording of their début album being finished, marked for a March release. The crowd might not quite have had quite the numbers to suggest it yet, but if the setlist is made up of tracks from the release, they could easily be the biggest band in the country. But even then, would that be a success for a band who have reportedly turned down major label record deals? For a band who have gone out of their way to not publicise themselves, to leave their fans wondering and to make it difficult for those looking to know more, could a rise to being mid-level, chart bothering record shifters be what they set out to achieve?
Every band eventually reaches a turning point, and it seems World Unite; Lucifer Youth Foundation might have reached one of the first of many. The dedicated followers jump about with abandon in the front row whilst the band saunter through a set that is consistently good, if rarely breathtaking. The two standout tracks are predictably the two that have been repeatedly reposted on blogs across the internet, with Spitting Blood edging out Heavy Pop as a highlight, but neither really reach the majesty of their recorded counterparts.Still, it’s easy to forget that, for all their professional PR and bombast, this is a band still taking their first steps, still developing. Perhaps what is most startling is the complete lack of ego or arrogance that each of the four members possess, something which admittedly could be attributed to the fact that there are certainly parents and younger siblings in the audience. The set is finished without warning and without encore, a typically blunt finale. What is clear is that the real work starts now, and Wu Lyf still have a lot of it to do – though whether they’re sure what they’re working towards and if they’ll manage to do it with the same trailblazing verve they’ve whipped up hype, are still very much in doubt.