Palma Violets, fresh faces of Britpop, invade the Indy

Palma-VioletsPhotos by James Nagel ~ Written by Kevin Quandt

The British have always been fanatical about their own rock bands, dating back to the origins of the genre. This has been the case for many years, and though the States aren’t vastly different, it is clear us Yanks will not get behind every export in record numbers (see: Blur and Stone Roses at Coachella this year). The new buzz oozing from the British Isles goes by the name Palma Violets, and are already being hailed as the next Arctic Monkeys, which is a helluva big deal over in Jolly Old.


Tuesday night had the quartet appearing at San Francisco’s the Independent on their first US national tour, largely revolving around two appearances at Coachella. Support duties where helmed by fellow Indio performers and a growing New York City act which goes by the name Guards. As the room steadily filled, the early birds were treated to a whirlwind of indie rock that played heavily on both pop and psychedelic elements, backed by one of the more aggressive fog machines I have witnessed. Their genuinely spirited stage presence made the audience more receptive to the thick sound they churned out early on a weeknight. Their debut release In Guards We Trust is worth a spin, as it’s a good possibility they will gain momentum this summer.


Palma Violet’s debut album, 180, dropped in February to mainly positive reviews as the young Englishmen played their patented play on the ever-expanding genre of rock and roll. Yes, it’s decidedly labeled as BritPop, but the sound runs much deeper as elements from American music can be found, as well. Comparisons aside, Palma Violets, consisting of Alexander “Chilli” Jesson(bass/vocals), Sam Fryer(guitar/vocals), Peter Mayhew(keyboards) and Will Doyle(drums), are a band to behold onstage in a live setting.

“Johnny Bagga’ Donuts” would be the first song, and from the first notes it was evident that these lads are in this whole thing to have a good time, and by extension, make the crowd join them. The enthusiasm is through the roof, whether via their hype-man/roadie that goes by Harry Violent or the band’s pension for joining the crowd, instruments and all. Early in the show, the two singers vocally resembled the full Cockney rasp of Joe, Mick and Paul of the Clash, and the stage energy mirrored the punk legends just enough. Add the warm synths that mixed into the thrash of bass and guitar, and the sound does come across as fully unique, while strangely familiar. “Chicken Dippers” showcased the vocal range of Sam Fryer as his voice lowered to a low baritone à la Julian Casablancas or Paul Banks. “Best Friend” was featured mid-set and received the most applause from the crowd, per the usual for an up-and-coming group’s fiery first single. One aspect that initially attracted me to 180 was the range of rock styles and sounds Palma Violets have managed to both cover, especially from guys not old enough to drink in the States.

One was not surprised when the encore came around that the band would close with a bang, and not a whimper. The mysterious ‘secret song’ off their release is entitled “Brand New Song.” Though not technically the most mind-blowing of their tracks, it is an uproarious anthem that celebrates all the fun of youth while demonstrating anything can and may happen at a show.


  1. […] Palma Violets // James Nagel The Independent // 4.23.13 […]

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