The debut night of Abbie McCarthy’s monthly Good Karma Club sees The Islington full to capacity with eager devourers of indie guitar music. Which is a fantastic indicator, that there are still plenty who wish to party until the early hours to live music, in a sticky & sweaty pub instead of trying to dance to Tropical House in a sticky and sweaty club. Counted amongst the throng are a few famous faces, include Isaac Holman of Slaves and Dan from Bastille.
The success of the night is down a large part to the quality of bands on offer, and the real connections they offer to the audience and scene in general. This wasn’t an event for cutting edge and innovative music, but for bands influenced by all the bands you’ve loved listening to over the past decade. The opening two acts, Kent based The Bay Rays and Sheffield indie-quintet The Sherlocks helpfully take it upon themselves to cover US and UK influences between them, in that order. Before headliners the angsty and abrasive Childcare offer a performance that is as much spectacle as it is musical.
So, first on, the collectively designer moustachioed The Bay Rays spring straight in with their Americana inflected garage-indie. Reminiscent of The Black Lips or perhaps The Von Bondies and even ‘The Idiot’ era Iggy Pop, the trio go about delivering concise tunes with an impressive frenetic energy, matched only by their telepathic synchronisation. So many acts these days take a retro sound as their basis, but a few fall into the trap of becoming just that bit too backward looking to really cut through today. Certainly new acts, however, manage to balance this vintage inspiration with a modern edge, giving a feeling that the music/act is relevant to the current day – a couple of artists that spring to mind in this sense are Brighton-based The Magic Gang, or Liverpool band Trudy. To my mind, The Bay Rays fall into this category and, especially live, the sound very much makes sense in 2016. Relating to the opening of the review, it is exciting acts such as this, that will get people out to live music events and therefore into emerging artists of this type in all mediums.
Another band which is definitely causing some excitement, particularly in the North, are The Sherlocks. Aptly hailing from Sheffield at the time when The Arctic Monkeys game-changing debut turns 10 years old, you can tell this is a band that takes great direction from the aforementioned Steel city legends and also the multitude of other bands they in turn paved the way for. There has been a lot of discussion over the impact The Arctic Monkeys have had, and not all of it is positive, but all you can say with regards to tonight’s performance from this young group is that there are bands out there that are still excited to be playing like that, and there are still crowds excited to hear new guys doing it, as evidenced by Catfish and the Bottlemen’s meteoric rise too. Stand out single ‘Live For the Moment’, which became an unlikely chart botherer when released last year gets probably the best reception, whilst new single ‘Last Night’ also goes down a treat. Having literally just come from a tour supporting The Libertines and with new and exciting festival slots being announced every day The Sherlocks are most definitely not going away anytime soon.
The final act to take to the stage are spiky alt-rockers Childcare. Drummer, guitarist and bassist make a pretty inconspicuous entrance to the stage, before frontman Ed Cares jumps on ready to tear it up. It seems coincidental that just after he’s released a new track with Josh Homme I’d make two Iggy Pop references, put it down to the Baader Meinhof phenomenon or whatever, but this is the kind of animalist intensity the shirtless and body-art boasting Mr. Cares brings to his performance. Throwing his drink over the crowd before he starts singing, ending up in the audience during the first number and passing his bottle of liquid courage around the crowd are sure signs that he is taking no prisoners in his quest for sonic domination. It’s a visceral show throughout, but not bereft of charming musical subtleties, for example when the members of the band provide whistled tunes in place of backing vocals, or during the charming vocal interplay between Ed Cares and his bassist which reminded of noiseniks Johnny Foreigner. Coming late in the set is fantastic new single ‘Omega Grey’, one of the best new songs I’ve heard recently. It is a track that epitomises all the facets of Childcare, with its dark energy, combination of extroversion and introversion in both sound and character, as well as a sultry sexiness which all adds up to a multi-layered listen.
As the band leave the stage for Abbie herself to DJ the night away, you can be sure that the passionate crowd here tonight are pencilling in the next edition of the event already.
For more information on Good Karma Club head here.