Basking in the enigma of Britain’s most mysterious new band
Need To Know
• The band perform in front of their huge signature cross. This often gets destroyed mid-set
• They have performed in all-white before, as well as with white bandanas over their face
• Singer Ellery Roberts wore a ‘Step Outside, Posh Boy’ tee during the gig (there was also a bastardised Cameron shirt onstage too)
Wu Lyf are the most talked about unsigned project in Britain. Approximately 87 per cent of any scouting discussions occurring within these shores right now centre around this four-piece band. The hype certainly hasn’t been hurt by the fact they won’t talk to anyone – about anything.
As if to prove that last statement, today NME is forced to go incognito to the monthly local Manchester residency they play at their manager’s An Outlet café.
Fronted by 21-year-old dictator/singer/filmmaker Ellery Roberts, the band – pronounced ‘Woo Life’ – seem to revel in cultivating foxing artefacts rather than just being in a band.
Tonight, the venue’s buzzing with mischievous tales of their other favourite pastime: winding up the A&R brigade. After selling out their 50-quid demos they recently told one legendary scout, “We’re on at 11pm. Don’t be late.” He arrived at 10 to be informed they’d finished at nine.
Tonight, we’re not subject to such pranks. Their set commences behind a makeshift screen displaying visuals of murder scenes, firing artillery and South American landscapes. Two songs in, the screen drops and the crowd are led into a back alcove where the band are in full swing. For the next 45 minutes, Wu Lyf plough through a set of confrontational, bruised and battle-scarred drone-pop.
The atmosphere is ultra-tense throughout – helped by guitarist Tom asking henchmen to sabotage-barge NME’s snapper. But they’re completely captivating. Ellery’s voice is a revelation – like Leadbelly if he’d been a smackhead from Moss Side. Elsewhere, they combust from Nick Cave into Mobb Deep, then consume their own ashes for nourishment.
Huddled together outside the venue post-gig, they’re still not giving much away. “I didn’t like the crowd,” Ellery offers of the 40/10 industry/friends turnout, while Tom muses that the band “really aren’t fussed” about what happens next. And with that coquettish shrug, the guitarist might as well have just bottled his band’s essence.