Momma perfectly embody the notion of being too cool for school. As the eye-poppingly bright neon lights of the fairground rides that populate Brighton Pier flash against the wide glass doors of Horatio’s, the duo – guitarists and vocalists Etta Friedma and Allegra Weingarten, joined by an additional bassist and drummer – stroll onto stage with a chilled aura that deliberately contrasts the occasion. They’re the last band on stage at this venue tonight, and in service to their shared, impeccable effortlessness, they swerve any formal intros and launch straight into the keening riffs of ‘Apollo’. You could say that they, quite literally, let the music do the talking.
But instead of relying on customary stage chatter, the draw lies in their subtle sonic eccentricities; ‘Motorbike’ opens with a vintage blues-sounding section, before a swirl of menacing drum flourishes announces a gutsy and thrumming ‘Speeding 72’. Having recently hit the road with Wet Leg across the US, the speed of Momma’s rise is reflected in the impossibly long queues outside the venue, with many punters having legged it across the pier late at night, through blustering winds, to experience 30 minutes of this band’s crisp and driving rock.
This is a show that deliberately contrasts The Great Escape’s industry-heavy attendance: Momma lock their guitars into duelling battle and tease out an on-stage moshpit in lieu of the sort of rowdy crowd that their grungy, ruthlessly infectious sound would typically command. In moments like these, the pair’s lack of ego as performers shines through, too: they just want to rock out, proudly and carelessly.
Both Friedma and Weingarten’s vocals aim wider, higher and louder as the set progresses, offering feral squawks when needed during ‘Lucky’, and later descending into laughter. They quietly embrace the spirit of this new music-focused festival by airing what’s next, relishing the opportunity to tease this song and other unreleased material from their forthcoming album, ‘Household Name’ (July 1). Friedma is even emboldened enough to coax the crowd into singing along to spiralling guitar lines of recent single ‘Medicine’ like a backing band, but looks entirely overcome when the song quickly disappears into the sound of cheering.
Approaching the end of their set with ‘Rockstar’, Friedma and Weingarten, with guitars held close to their hearts, pirouette woozily and giddily around the stage, like two ballerinas that have fallen off the top of a wind-up music box, lost in their own world. It’s the sound – and sight – of two supremely talented musicians finally letting loose, their understated confidence fully realised.