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Underground and boxed inside

The London Overground ploughs through Shoreditch, and beneath the railway arches lies Village Underground. It’s a fascinating venue. The tight tunnels and narrow passageways give way to a monolithic brick wall which towers over the side of the stage—a stage where Boxed In stand.

This concert is the band’s largest to date, although given frontman Oli Bayston’s nack for a nifty melody and tight production, it would not be surprising if they went onto much bigger things from here. Their sound, somewhere between dance and alt rock, fills the cavern.

Everything the band do has a real sense of urgency tonight—cymbals are smashed, bass strings are plucked, strobes flash, all with a ferocious intensity which invigorates some of the more plodding songs from latest LP, Melt.

The final minutes of ‘London Lights’ are transformed from a pretty dull breakdown into a frenzy—synths soar like organs around the venue, while Bayston yells “Take you back for love!” The added pace doesn’t always come off as well as the band might like. On their more reflective tracks, not that there are many, it’s all a bit too much. The power of Bayston’s most restrained and beautiful song to date, ‘Open Ended’, is lost: the climactic bridge—during which he sings of Icarus—flies too close to a beat-driven sun, has its wings melted, and dies.

Boxed In choose not to look back to their first, eponymous LP, and it’s a move that pays off —in retrospect their earlier songs quite understandably don’t demonstrate the same nuance as their later tracks. Despite this, it’s one from Boxed In which is the standout track of the night—’All Your Love is Gone’. Perhaps it’s just that the song’s venue is appropriate—after all, the line about “rusty railroad tracks” and the stabbing train-like piano chords remind the crowd of what’s going on above the gloomy shadows in the rafters of the venue.

Still, as the song reaches its finale, the crowd are really moving, and Boxed In leave the stage, their big gig a success. But before they go, Bayston informs the audience that he and the rest of the band will come and meet everyone at the exit. It’s a nice touch—but trains have to be caught, so it was a transfer from Underground back to Overground before Boxed In had a chance to say goodbye.

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