As the home of an ever-growing crowd of misfits, art school dropouts and hip millennial urbanites, Hackney cries out to the youth as a safe haven for the now conventional nuances of ‘abnormality’. The area is the cultural equivalent of a toddler throwing their toys out of a pram, rallying against London norms in true post-modernist fashion, appropriating bits from here and there in the process and creating something new and wholly refreshing. Tonight’s venue, a vintage clothes store by day, sophisticated bar by night, is a unique and genuinely quirky place to be.
Svetlana Smith opens the modestly sized stage, bringing a sweet blend of electronic pop songs, minimal in production but grandiose in nature. Svetlana Smith is really on to something with her innocent but empowering love songs, preaching about love for yourself not another, all bought together in an elegant package taped together by sickly sweet and catchy melodies. Bringing her set to a close after a mere three songs, the crowd are left feeling not quite full enough yet, wondering what’s in store next.
Psychedelic, trippy vibes follow Svetlana, 60s Space Engine turn on the thrusters and jet off into an apocalypse daydream. Meshing modern dance elements with psychedelic guitars, off-kilter rhythms and melancholia, 60s Space Engine are an expansive sounding group. With just four members the band sound absolutely huge, it’s inescapable. Using vocals sparingly, most of their songs feel like improvised, spontaneous jams that absolutely kick ass and gives the band an air of mystery, like they are tuned into something that the rest of the room is not. I really like the wide range of emotions conveyed throughout their performance from trance-like euphoria to an angsty, heavy mess all within minutes of each other.
Show Boy take to the stage in all their shimmering glory, waltzing into the spotlight in the finest glitter covered attire. Shredding through ’80s inspired pop rock songs with a coy charm, these guys have serious chops. Their performance is a very tongue-in-cheek throwback to a simpler time: when synthesisers were a revelation, plastered all over every pop record in the world, when men wearing oversized suits crooned over women they couldn’t have and when everyone seemed to just dance. As with a lot of music these days, the ’80s seems to be a romanticised remnant of a time when people were hopeful and believed things could actually change but never has it sounded this good. With lovelorn lyrics and an envy of Channing Tatum, this band has real character and it shines through, and it’s so refreshing to see, in all of today’s dreary mundanity.
Closing this monstrosity of a show is Cosydrive, an electronic psych pop duo with an attitude and a mesmerising quirkiness. The band take to the stage with a laptop, a bass guitar and a synthesiser – all that’s needed in this case to put on an awesome show. Picking apart the brains of the audience with fascinating, skittish sounds, the band go from conventional pop to all-out freakshow and back again within the space of a few seconds. Enthralling dark lyrics give a glimpse into the world of Cosydrive, a dangerous and mystifying place that captures and feeds off the minds of every creature that steps within its territory. All eyes are on them as they spew and shout into a vocoder, distorting and buzzing all over the place, it’s really hard not to be drawn into this unstable universe they’ve created – it’s as though the world is ending yet they don’t care.