Evangeline Ling of Audiobooks. Photography: Hannah Edina Woollam
Lazy Sunday Oxford Street shoppers made their way around swarms of Fred Perry guests and music fans emerging from iconic underground music venue The 100 Club. Aside from being a corporate hype-event, the day’s festivities boasted a genre-spanning line up of some of the most anticipated recent artists, headlined by enigmatic new ‘best band in London’ Black Midi. Many showed up early with coffees, tentatively traded for pints, for the start of the music at 2pm.
Standing solo mid-stage in clean white socks with a laptop covered in Hello Kitty stickers, Jerskin Fendrix was first on. “Thank you for coming to the auspicious 100 club on my actual biological birthday,” he said after politely introducing himself. Launching into his own peculiar brand of pseudo-pop, throbbing electronic beats shook the walls and rattling clicks echoed as the crowd grew.
Next came Jockstrap, a now five-piece band of Guildhall students (originally only made up of vocalist/violinist Georgia Ellery, who also plays with Goat Girl, and pianist/electronic solo artist Taylor Skye). They have a rare authenticity, and their unconventional sound is a merging of cinematic jazz influences and off-kilter electronic beats. They use percussion and auto-tune playfully and their tongue-in-cheek attitude provides a counterweight from the straightforward, pure beauty of Ellery’s voice.
Jockstrap. Photography: Hannah Edina Woollam
A highlight of the day was Audiobooks, a product of David Wrench and Evangeline Ling. They’re a mismatched duo whose upcoming album, Now! (In a Minute), will be released on 2nd November. Each song is a separate narrative and Ling’s expressive vocals are childlike – they veer between breathlessness, rabid shrieks and slow spoken word. She is a mesmerising performer with a tense, wide-legged stance, feral in her animation, moving between awkwardness and fluid confidence. ‘Dance Your Life Away’ has the frantic exuberance of Bow Wow Wow and she shrieks in a surreal, wired stream of consciousness; “Let's go get our legs waxed and our armpits waxed and our vaginas waxed! Yeah! Let’s go! Let's do it, do it, do it!”
Black Country, New Road saw Jockstrap’s Ellery and Lewis Evans take to the stage once again along with four of their bandmates from former split band Nervous Conditions. The six-piece has the brilliant art-rockiness of Sonic Youth and simple guitar clashes woven with intriguing elements of world music and descents into frantic cacophony. Vocalist Isaac Wood delivered earnest spoken word riffs with a dark, satirical humour – including one song that involves Kendall Jenner bleeding to death in a hotel room.
The event continued on through the afternoon and into the evening with a variety of acts: Sons of Raphael, Dylan Cartlidge, ALASALASKA, Kojaque, Skinny Pelembe, Puma Blue and grime artist Denzel Himself. By 10pm, the venue was packed and buzzing with anticipation of the day’s headliners.
David Wrench of Audiobooks. Photography: Hannah Edina Woollam
If you have been paying attention for the past few months, you will be well aware of the reputation that follows Black Midi. Since forming over a year ago, they have generated a ravenous following and cultish status amongst those who frequent independent venues such as The Windmill in Brixton. Teenagers Gerdie Greep (guitar and vocals), Matt Kelvin (guitar), Cameron Picton (bass and vocals) and Morgan Simpson (drums) have found themselves at the heart of a new generation of South London bands. Dynamic, expressive and shockingly good drumming drives their music, complemented by Greep’s bizarre vocals and math-rock guitars. Their name comes from a niche genre involving versions of songs remixed using millions of digital musical notes, so if it were sheet music, the page would be completely filled in black. Though the name was not chosen with this in mind, their intensity, energy and technical complexity make it a fitting component.
Their brilliance and sonic immensity is apparent from the moment they start playing – they are very tight, connected in an almost intuitive way. They toy with anticipation and dangle sounds, teasing the audience and creating a tangible, physical tension. The band themselves avoid audience interaction – save Greep silently shaking an extended forefinger as an awkward scolding of a drunken stage-crasher. Individually, each member is intriguing – they seem shy, smart and have an energy that is unmatched by almost any band playing at the moment. If you want to believe it, don’t look at the sparse recordings and videos online – you need to see them live.
In the recent past, a lineup with such an eclectic range of genres would have been unheard of, but many of the artists paving the way for music’s future move between genres with a progressive fluidity. Those who insist on mourning ‘dead’ genres should be reassured that there are more exciting things happening – evolutions, hybrids and sounds that promise something totally new.
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