LIVE REVIEW: Abbie McCarthy’s Good Karma Club featuring Talkboy + Zuzu + The Academic

Good Karma Club is a London-based monthly club night curated by BBC Introducing’s Abbie McCarthy with the aim of celebrating and promoting new music. The event came to Leeds’ Chapel venue in April as part of a UK tour with the line-up including local band Talkboy, Liverpool-born singer ZuZu and The Academic, as well as DJ sets from McCarthy herself.

Talkboy kicked off proceedings. The recently formed band includes members from other electronic and rock groups from Leeds (Laminate Pet Animal, Fizzy Blood). Perhaps it is this multitude of stylistic influences which makes pinning Talkboy to a genre so difficult. Blending elements of electronic and indie-rock, vocals were shared between a male and female vocalist. For me, they were the most exciting artists of the night for their potential to differ from other music out now, a booking definitely in keeping with the event’s aim of celebrating new music. Look out for their first single, set to be released this month.

Next up was pop-rock singer-songwriter ZuZu whose rough around the edges vocal delivery and deadpan expression weren’t enough to cover her obvious (albeit cynical) romantic streak evident in tracks like ‘Get Off’ and ‘What You Want’. Though surely relatable to the frustrated romantics in the room, as a singular voice backed only by two guitars I found her set too different in style and volume to fit comfortably with the other artists on the bill who had much bigger sounds, making her reception a fraction of what it could have been had she had the right audience – though it was always going to be tough to win over what felt like a room full of people who had come to see The Academic.

In the interval McCarthy spun sure-fire indie classics both old and new, the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ creating up to this point the most crowd energy of the night.

That was until the crowd got what it had come for – not the discovery of new music, but The Academic, and the Irish indie four-piece certainly seemed to make their wait worthwhile. Tracks from their recent album ‘Tales from the Backseat’ – consisting mostly of tales of happy-go-lucky romancing and youthful shenanigans, certainly seemed to resonate with the crowd of majority teenage boys. Slowing things down briefly the band paid tribute to the late singer-songwriter Dolores O’Riordan with a cover of ‘Linger’ by The Cranberries. The tempo was brought back up by undeniably catchy numbers such as ‘Bear Claws’ and ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends’ (“A good one to shake your arse to,” according to vocalist Craig Fitzgerald) and the sweaty, jostling crowd was definitely feeling it.

All in all, Good Karma Club proved itself to be a staple event for those who want the chance to discover bands before they blow up.

Good Karma Club’s flagship night in London returns on Thursday 28th June with live music from Rascalton, Riscas & Suzi Island. Free tickets are available now via Dice.

Photos by: Solay Elibol

Zoe Peck
Music blogger from Leeds

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