If you haven’t heard of it already, Hush Hush is a relaxed acoustic night run by Chuck SJ Hay and Hope Rudd, which started life at White Rabbit on Sunday nights and has now spawned a twin: Hush Hush at The Western Front on Wednesday nights.
The evening promised five local acts in the cosy upstairs of the pub, each with a half hour set in which to offer up their musical delights. The evening had turned surprisingly warm when I rolled up, eager to hear some chilled music after a long day. I grabbed myself a beer as Rudy Warman took to the stage with his unique brand of bluesy and melodic love songs. Starting with a great old blues cover and leading on into a mixture of somewhat intricate picking and chords, his sounds were a fitting introduction to the ethos of the night. His voice was much better than some local musicians you can hear around Brighton and fitted well with the sometimes melancholy feel of his songs. It was a solid set that was well structured and well rehearsed in which he let his music do the talking.
After a short break, next up was Verity Sessions, a musician I had heard of but had never heard before. Bittersweet came to my mind when listening to her cream electric guitar and powerful voice. There was a happy sadness behind her set that was all the more potent for the intimate surroundings and the growing audience were engaged and behind her the whole way. Her guitar playing showed a delicious repetitious delicacy that contrasted well with a voice which grabbed your attention and refused to let go. I enjoyed her set very much and will definitely be seeing her again whenever I get the opportunity.
Wheezy J was the third musician of the evening to entertain with the microphone. By this point in the evening the pub was filled with people sitting on the floor around the stage, adding to a buzzing atmosphere. Despite the name, her music was not in the slightest bit wheezy, which was a bit disappointing at first as I really wanted to see
a small blond girl pull off wheezy vocals. I soon got over it though as she played through an accomplished set. A drummer by nature for her band Dinosaur! Attack! she played a set of strong acoustic songs following themes of confusion, disenchantment and hope.
Wheezy J was closely followed by Hope Rudd, one of the organisers of the night, with her distinct brand of ‘wall of sound’ music. She hit the audience with her usual finesse, looping the licks and riffs with her delay pedal in expert style, bravely starting with two brand new songs. A particular highlight was I’m Not Bitter, You’re Just A Bitch, not least because of the laugh it drew from the crowd (who were all probably pretty drunk by this point).
One of the best acts of the night were One Bright Life, usually an electric band but tonight playing ‘unplugged’ and featuring acoustic guitar and a double bass. This was the first time I had seen an acoustic set with a double bass outside of a jazz performance and it added an interesting twist to proceedings. Dave Hill used an effective mixture of the bow and picking which combined with the strong chords of the acoustic guitar and his uplifting but introspective lyrics. This was one of the first times the band had played acoustically and they handled it brilliantly.
Last but not least was Chuck SJ Hay. Although the crowd had begun to thin, Chuck’s presence on stage certainly didn’t as she played a fantastic set of songs intertwining both fast and heavy elements with slower melodic moments. One of my favourite songs of her performance was written whilst she was travelling and was dedicated to her brother; she even managed to weave a cheeky joke about masturbation in before playing it. It was a fulfilling end to a fun night that gave me an excellent excuse to celebrate the middle of the week for no particular reason at all. Long live Hush Hush!