Seeking shelter from the sun, I decided to head underground to the musical hub of Cenral Oxford. Descending to the depths of Cellar, I found three bands perfect for future listens.
London indie fourpiece Old Swing were up first. Their studio sound is mirage-like melodies, supporting soft summery vocals. However, in the shoebox-sized Cellar the drums stole the show, giving these guys a grittier edge. Rhythm and lead mixed perfectly, at times feeding us funk, at others sounding like synths, and the bass was infectious. They ended on a song called ‘Time’ – but we wanted them to go on. Already a wellknown crowd-pleaser, a rocked-up rhythm and extended outro sealed the deal on a performance which was both solid and soulful.
Next up were Buckinghamshire threesome SEAFOAM. Kicking things off with ‘Distractions’ it was clear these guys were a well-versed performance powerhouse. Jim Terrill’s vocals cut clearly through reverbed guitars and the rhythm section kept it exciting, playing a set that was tight and thrilling. Again, their music usually sounds like summer days, but tonight proved them men of all seasons. ‘Outside’, the opening track of their debut EP of the same name, is falsetto indie-pop personified, but was immediately followed by the Nirvana-tinged track entitled ‘The End’.
But it wasn’t the end. The guys debuted a few new tracks, all of which hit the mark. At times, they sounded like Mac Demarco, but at half the speed and with double the soul. At other points, they had the bubbling bass of The Growlers. But it was clear from the off that they should stick to the singing, and discard their irritating tendency to add unnecessary spoken word pieces into songs. Why try and be a poet when you’ve nailed being a singer? This was only a minor complaint, however, on a performance which had both strength and depth.
Next, Sports Team took to the stage. These guys are so laid back they’re horizontal (a fact demonstrated by singer Alex Rice’s frequent lying down), but they’re far from lazy. They careered, cranium-first, into the chaotic ‘Camel Crew’, but despite the live madness Alex’s theatrical vocals and the shouted responses from the other bandmembers could be
The six-piece met while studying at Cambridge and released their debut EP Winter Nets earlier this year. On the music video for their best track, ‘Beverly Rose’, Alex takes the mick – now, live, he takes the mic, wandering into the audience. He is the perfect frontman, cracking jokes between tracks before dancing behind the microphone. This is all countered by a maracas player who maddogged the audience the entire time.
They have variety: ‘Kutcher’ is a fast-paced rocker, ‘Winter Nets’ is indie perfection. It all finished too soon, but ‘Stanton’ is the perfect closer. With its twelve-bar rhythm, fantastic opening lyric, and gradual build to chaotic crescendo, it was no wonder the moshing monsters were out in full force.
By the time the band left the stage and I left Cellar rain was falling. Summer was over, but Sports Team are just beginning. Mind you catch them while you can – I don’t think they’ll be playing in the lower tiers for too long.