WaterBear, Brighton

18th July 2023

Photography by

Sam Howell

Taken to the internet after my friends stopped listening to my music recommendations. Brighton based. 19.

Preparing for upcoming releases, MudCoffee take the stage in Brighton, with a set ripe with a rejuvenated classic rock sound

Returning to Brighton off the back of their 2000trees set earlier this month, MudCoffee headed to the seafront WaterBear. They channelled the 70s while weaving through a foray of influences from midwest emo and folk to psychedelia. The band invited their audience into an intimate, egoless soundscape where each note played expanded beyond itself into an impossible whole bigger than the sum of its parts.

Before the band took the stage the crowd was left in the capable hands of the support acts starting with:

Will Hanco, who ‘makes bops in his bedroom’: a singer songwriter currently gearing up for releases at the end of the year, who took the stage with nothing but his voice and an acoustic guitar. It is rare for such a bare-bones set up to result in an engaged crowd, especially for an opening act, but it is a testament to Will’s own prowess and the audience’s respect of such that every head was fixed rigidly on him.

His voice, akin to a Siren crooning across a fog ridden ocean, was backed by dexterous finger playing shooting across the neck of the guitar with true ease. Will started the night in a tremendous fashion.

Up next was Cam Mitchell alongside musicians Lukas Castella (drums), Kit Mellis (bass), Dave Alex (guitar/ backing vocals) who raised the ante. With a more expansive instrumental line up they stretched their John Mayer influence to include the sounds of bedroom pop paired with a soul and funk backdrop, courtesy of their powerful rhythm section.

Such highlights of the set included their cover of ‘I’m On Fire‘ by Bruce Springsteen and their closer ‘Over and Over‘ that presented the undeniable skills of Castella and Mellis in an stank-infested groove breakdown.

The last support of the night was the folk rock act Bemis. Breathing an excitement into a genre established for decades their pure love of music shone through. Not once during the set was there anything but a childish grin on each of the members face, as if they were playing each song for the first time.

Having played together for over a decade, they displayed a unity and talent in every song played. Yet it never felt as if they were going through the motions, with front man Howells always joking with the crowd, including them in the story of each song.

Photography by

After the first few hours of openers, the crowd was ready for the night’s headliners. They erupted as the stage door opened to reveal Will Davis (Drums), Louis Howells (bass), Leon Joullie (vocals/guitar) and Oscar Wahlstedt (vocals/guitar) making up MudCoffee. They kicked off the set with an instrumental jam that revealed a new shoegaze influence nestling amongst their sound. The track included sudden eruption of euphoric expansion where reverbed angelic chords filled up the room like the sun rising over a dark field.

As a band, they pair and embrace a culmination of genres from midwest emo, folk, shoegaze, hard rock and psychedelia. Flexing a wide musical knowledge and appreciation for such, they possess the ability to go beyond simple mimicry of classic sounds and instead enclose their songs in a sun-kissed nostalgia against their contemporary songwriting.

The band and audience alike were in an entranced state, taking a step back from stage antics to let the music wrap itself snug around every ear drum. It was as if we were watching friends in their room play for peeling wallpaper and neighbours next door, not a packed music venue.

Unperturbed by any outside influence, they were lost in the throws of their own blooming creation. Their setlist furthered this laid-back atmosphere with the song Grandma’s Vinyl’ about flicking through old records with your friends, discovering new music and the excitement that brings.

Their recent single ‘Mud Coffee‘ was just one of the set’s highlights showcasing the band’s vocal harmonies: impressive in their own right when recorded but a whole other story when experienced live. The crowd were in awe of the comforting timbre from each voice intertwining and blossoming amongst the musicians.

Their set closer ‘In The City embraced a stadium rock aesthetic with a half-time instrumental bridge that could be plucked right from a Pink Floyd track. It ended their set on a punch rather than a stroke, but the audience wouldn’t have that. Seconds after the last note subsided the calls of ‘‘one more song’’ came from every corner of the venue and the band happily obliged with a driving blues rock number ‘Just Got Paid‘ that inspired a new vitality in the audience, who took the cue to start bobbing along.

The set from opener to close was a showcase of incredible talent that I can only hope continues into the future. Each act were happy to be heard and to hear, it was a celebration of music and the people that play it, where the only sounds to be heard other than music was the congratulations and celebrations from audience to performer.