Club Kuru, Ttrruuces and The Rodeo – Hackney Oslo – May 15th 2019

The Great Escape down in Brighton the weekend before last was an absolute blast. I’ve cobbled together my review for eFestivals and it’s now been published here

It didn’t temper my enthusiasm for going out to gigs last week whilst in London though. Bands that travelled far distances to get to The Great Escape extended their holidays by gigging in London. Nice Biscuit, the Aussie theatrical and futuristic psych-pop band, were great at the Sebright on Monday and the Chilean Music party, packed out with ex-pats, was every bit the experience it sounds at Paper Dress Vintage on Tuesday. 

It was nice to get out to Hackney’s Oslo on Wednesday for a good, old-fashioned album launch. Club Kuru were the act. I didn’t know much about them but the press release sounded like it’d be right up my street. 

I’ve been to Oslo once before (here). Somewhat strangely, it’s yet to feature on my 2019 gig travels. I like it though. The beer options are decent and the atmosphere generally friendly. 

I arrived just in time for The Rodeo who travelled all the way from Paris for this show. Initially, I wondered if their take on Britpop might need a bit of work but it’d be uncharitable to describe the whole negatively. A bit Echobelly, a tad Catalonia and a whole lot of The Cardigans is what you get here. And I’ve found another French act in 2019 to find out more about. 

Main support Ttrruuces were my act of the night. I chat to a chap at the bar before they take to the stage who gives me the lowdown. This is the new vehicle of Natalie Findlay (aka Findlay), an act that’s had a fair smattering of success as a solo artist. But now she’s in a band with a Phil Lynott lookalike. It might only be their second show (their first being at The Great Escape apparently) but this psychedelic folk-rock is pretty polished. Surrounded by fiddle and keyboards, beret-wielding Findlay plays the tambourine and dips into kazoo solos. When they move away from the rockier stuff, it’s as if Sandie Shaw is on a comeback trail and has employed The Go Team to help her. The shoe fits and the sensation you get from Ttrruuces is s cool one. 

I wanted to like Club Kuru more than I did. Perhaps I should write this one off as gig fatigue on my part. The songs are clearly well put together; a mix of west coast Americana and stoner funk. The heavy bass drills into my eardrums in the initial numbers and I beat a retreat to stand further back in the hall. I look around and people are chattering, catching up with mates and barely listening to what’s going on. New stuff is announced and it’s a bit like the Flaming Lips without any sense of live show.This should be my thing but I’m getting little out of standing here, it’s just not connecting and so I leave for my train back to Walthamstow. 

I resolve to listen to Club Kuru’s record in my own space. I suspect I’ll get more from that. 

Wampire, TOPS & Oscar – Hackney Oslo – November 24th

A wintry, Monday night at the Hackney Oslo and excellent promoter, Bird On A Wire, has a triple pack to keep us entertained. It’s a disparate line-up and, apart from them both coming from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, it’s difficult to see quite what Wampire and Tops are doing on the same bill. Numbers are made up but by no means diminished by London pop-tarts, Oscar.

Working in London on Mondays has been a bit of a treat in recent weeks. Rather than catch an early train back with the cacophony of commuters, I’ve dipped into the London gig scene. Like pretty much every other venue in this fine city, Hackney Oslo is a new one on me. You can’t fail to be impressed. Set in some converted railway arches just beyond Hackney Central overground, this is an impressive enterprise. I count posh burgers and beards in the smart downstairs space whilst drinking London Fields unfiltered lager (there’s a great range of well priced beers) before heading up a flight of stairs to the venue proper… Every town should have one of these!!

The first band to take to the stage, Oscar, are a new one to me. I warm to their brand of indie pop. Lead singer, Oscar Scheller, with clothing part tie-dye and part Mickey Mouse complements the other members of his band who have a penchant for check. If the Magnetic Fields were from London, they might sound like this. It’s a lo-fi, drums through the Casio quirky thing. “I’m Oscar – but we’re all Oscar“, says Oscar with an awkward and yet friendly charm. I resolve to find out more about them.

I’m mostly here to see Wampire. I blogged about them (here) a month or two ago and their records have since enjoyed spins galore. “This is the first show of our UK tour – how are you all doing?” says Rocky Tinder by way of introduction and we’re off. Psychedelic lights bounce around the walls as Wampire’s brand of beardy, stoner pop-rock infiltrates.

I allow myself to drift off. This is the sort of euphoric sound that you’d want to hear flat on your back, as the sun beats down, in a festival field. You don’t need drugs to alter your mental equilibrium. Simply ask Wampire to do the honours. “We’re feeling a bit jet lagged but we’re glad to be back in England“, they say with understated abandon before launching into recent single ‘The Amazing Heart Attack’. This is as pop perky as it gets – and it’s no bad thing for that.

There are a gaggle of girls standing next to me who appear to have little understanding of gig etiquette. Wampire are hardly a quiet band but still I am perplexed by the rudeness on show. “Oh my god, yes, it’s him”, observes one in a particularly loud North American drawl. They then proceed to consider with volume which member of Wampire they would want to shag. “We’re going to play a song about girls with bad attitude“, says Tinder. I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear the conversation.

With a shake of a Wizards Staff, Wampire’s set draws to a close. The loud girls push to the front. They must have been here to see TOPS. This is weedy and weak synth-pop from Canada. It might be better on record but live, it’s like a watching bad karaoke versions of Madonna records from the 1980’s. Lead singer, Jayne Penny, does her best to look alluring but actually just looks awkward. TOPS play a song that sounds like the bastard son of ‘Nothing compares to U’ if mixed with ‘Together in Electric Dreams’. I resist the urge to find the loud talkers and to shout in their ears and simply leave to catch a train home.