If you weren’t keeping an ear to the ground this week, you might not have noticed that Jockstrap was the hottest ticket in town. However, in the days prior to their long sold out Bullingdon date, I got the sense that they have a hidden network of fans who, like the music they love, are often quiet and unassuming—but also know the right time to really go for it. When discussing the gig in the Turf Tavern, I was approached by three such victims of ‘Jockstrapmania’ who had travelled from Barcelona without tickets, purely on the off chance of securing one outside the venue. Sure enough, the queue was inundated with desperate pleas from concertgoer hopefuls, offering over the odds for a date with demented electropop glory.
For the lucky 300 of us inside the venue walls, anticipation was palpable. An expectedly genre-hopping support set from pablopablo succeeded in warming up the crowd with an impassioned performance, while also highlighting how difficult it is to pull off a backing track based live set without a hitch—something which he didn’t quite achieve. Then, it was go time. The room flooded with blue light and our ears were graced with a house playlist consisting exclusively of post-WAP, sex-positive hip-hop. Shortly, Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye took the stage and ethereal falsetto filled the air.
The most immediately striking element of Jockstrap’s live show is frontwoman Georgia’s inimitable stage presence. Alternately floating like an angel and prowling like a demon, but invariably conducting a front row orchestra of black nail varnish to the sky. What next becomes apparent is the duo’s sheer mastery of a notoriously precarious medium. Much of what you hear at a Jockstrap gig is pre-recorded, but the human touch is never far away. When a violin line needs just the right amount of vibrato, Georgia grabs a violin. When a subwoofer demands to be brought to the brink of death in such a way that you feel it in your chest, Taylor reaches for an effects pedal. On ‘Glasgow’, an outrageous contrapuntal harp line is played live on keyboard, with the occasional wrong note putting the audience at ease: these modern-day virtuosos are indeed fallible, just.
The set was incredibly dynamic, pulling things out of the Bullingdon’s PA that its usual Garage Fridays have never aspired to. At times Jockstrap invoke a folk festival, at others an underground rave. Georgia, with nothing but her voice and an acoustic guitar, could grab the room in a chokehold. On occasion, during such moments of pin-drop silence, hand dryers blared through open bathroom doors or pints conspicuously clanged to the floor. Yet, with eyes closed, such noises could well have been welcome additions to the music—such is the eclecticism of Jockstrap’s sonic universe. Glitchy, distorted cuts, such as fan favourite and set closer ‘50/50’, truly overwhelmed. Lights strobed furiously as the contents of Taylor’s water bottle was flung over the ecstatic front few rows. A swift exit ensued – the duo don’t mess around.
At the end of the night, I felt that Jockstrap had thrown down the gauntlet for a new breed of hyper-versatile, terminally online music. They write breath-taking pop songs, only to douse them in petrol, light a match, and hear them magnificently combust. They strive to innovate, relentlessly questioning notions of genre and the conventions of live performance. They exist to confound the people making the futile attempt to put their music into words. But, after watching them hold the Bullingdon in the palms of their hands, I’m convinced they have one true goal which transcends such things: to ensure that you have an obscene amount of fun at the most enthralling club night of your life. If that sounds appealing, put your faith in Jockstrap—you won’t be disappointed.