Honey Revenge Bring A Night Of Glitter And Grooves To Their Debut UK Headliner | Live Review

London, Camden Assembly, December 07 2023

Photo: Claire Hodgkins

It’s been a year of firsts for Los Angeles’ Honey Revenge.

Since dropping their vibrant debut album ‘Retrovision’ back in June, the duo have spent the last six months ascending through the ranks of the alternative scene. With countless sold-out shows in the US under their belt, the band’s buzz has swiftly spread overseas – bringing them across the Atlantic for a run of shows across the UK with scene legends The Used.

It’s not often you can say that you’re playing two sold-out shows in one night, but that’s exactly what’s on the agenda for Honey Revenge on this rainy London evening. Warming up the crowd at Kentish Town’s O2 Forum before Bert McCracken and co. take to the stage, they’re darting across Camden to headline their first ever UK show at the Assembly – where an equally packed-out room awaits them.

A disco ball suspended in the centre of the venue – before the show even begins guitarist Donovan Lloyd is setting the party in motion. Gleefully dancing around and checking in with members of the crowd whilst preparing the stage – teasing the opening riff of ‘Airhead’ in the process – by the time they signal to the crowd to count down from five to begin the show, the energy in the room is electric.

As shouts of ‘One!’ bounce around the venue’s walls, vocalist Devin Papadol leaps onstage with vibrant pink hair and eyeshadow, wielding a matching microphone.

“London, welcome to our first-ever UK headliner!” she declares as the band rip through storming opener ‘Seeing Negative (Disappointment)’.

A Paramore super-fan – confirmed by the band’s three-bar logo tattooed on her forearm – it’s impossible not to notice glimpses of a young Hayley Williams in Devin’s performance. Swaggeringly self-assured yet instantly knocking down any barrier that may exist between the band and everyone else in the room, the vocalist’s energy is infectious from the second she steps onstage.

Pausing after ‘Worst Apology’ to ask a member of the crowd to tie her shoe, as a fan helps to prevent any embarrassing on-stage tumbles, she takes a moment to teach the rest of the room a call-and-response of, “Miss me with the bullshit!”. Everyone maxing out their vocal cords as they put the teachings into action on the band’s tongue-on cheek debut single ‘Miss Me’, fellow non-album track ‘Ride’ brings a shredding solo from Donovan – the guitarist grinning cheek to cheek as they play.

A sparkling presence on stage right – not least due to their glittering guitar – whether they’re nailing ‘Favorite Song’s funky riffs or delivering powerful pop-punk high-kicks, Donovan’s enthusiasm radiates through the room. Introduced as Devin’s “musical partner in crime, with hair almost as big as [her] personality”, the duo bounce effortlessly off one another on-stage as conga lines, mosh pits, and pointed fingers dominate the floor below them.

Photo: Claire Hodgkins

Although technically a duo, there are four people on-stage tonight, with Devin taking a moment to introduce the band’s rhythm section. Comprised of “witchy” bassist Tay Kincaid and drummer Matthew Arsenault, the pair complete the live incarnation of Honey Revenge brilliantly, each delivering stand-out performances.

After warming up the crowd’s voices with dance-ready album highlight ‘Habitual’ – Matthew fittingly donning a shirt that reads ‘So Habitual’ across its front – Devin introduces the next song as “the one that brought them over” to the UK.

With London currently home to the highest number of Honey Revenge listeners in the world, self-depreciative track ‘Rerun’ popped off upon its release in late 2022. A highly relatable ode to feeling as though you’ve living the same bad day over and over again, the room explodes into a cathartic singalong during the song’s chorus, with the night’s first crowd surfer making their way on-stage.

Asking permission to “get emo” for a second with mid-paced album cut ‘Murphy’s Law’, after a moment of introspection the party is back in full swing. Directing the crowd to crouch down to the floor during the climax of sugary sweet pop banger ‘Are You Impressed?’, the song’s final chorus sees the room erupt as a sea of purple glowsticks are lifted high in the air.

Shifting gears with ‘Scapegoat’ – a slower track addressing the idea of being cast as the villain in someone else’s story – tonight is a chance for the band to spotlight material yet to have a chance to shine on UK shores. Reminiscing on one of the first songs they ever wrote as a band – written at a time when Devin was considering quitting music altogether – ‘Fight Or Flight’ brings a poignant, powerful moment, the crowd’s resounding voices echoing each one of the vocalist’s words.

Her face plastered with a grin, Devin announces, “Where are all my airheads at?!”, launching into a sing-along of the ‘Retrovision’ opening track that unites the room. Bringing the night to a close, the album’s fellow book-end – closer ‘Distracted’ – ignites a circle pit that engulfs most of the floor, with Devin and Donovan proudly watching the chaos unfold.

As one last Donovan guitar solo brings the set to its finale, Devin expresses the band’s appreciation before inviting the crowd to squeeze together for some photos. Ending the night with a playful moment of metal horns, dabbing, and shouts of “Retrovision!” before stepping off-stage to meet as many fans as possible – it’s a marker of the sense of community that defines Honey Revenge.

Photo: Claire Hodgkins

The room gradually filtering out as excited conversations ripple through the dispersing crowd, it’s difficult to believe that what everyone just witnessed isn’t the start of something incredibly special. A night of honey-coated sad music, uniting a roomful of people from all walks of life, on their UK debut headline the LA duo wonderfully showcase the power of what they’re creating with this project. An hour of non-stop singing, dancing, and above all – connection – Honey Revenge’s live show is a burst of colour in a world that often feels monochrome.

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