New year, new bands and a new venue for us to play in. This triptych of invigoration certainly helped out on a horrible night so swept with rain that we’d normally be aiming to forget such a Thursday.
But the shiny allure of Hackney’s latest place of melodic adventure was too much to resist for us at Clash. Along with 200-odd Londoners also content to wedge two fingers up to the Tube strike and batter on with their love of discovering new places and sounds.
Oslo, the latest venue from the DHP Family (who run Dot To Dot festival), is a 350-capacity live music den in the redeveloped old Hackney Central ticket hall. Gone are the ghosts of late trains and fading conductors, replaced by the chance to join the journey of fresh bands in their quests for immortality.
Our warm-up act certainly has grasped the notion of immortality pretty quickly. George Barnett, a 19-year-old wunderkind of pop and energy, has previously been described as “Robbie Williams meets Muse,” and it’s a pretty accurate pinpoint of his epic funky sound. If you want to check out his pop credentials then you could fall happily into line with eight million YouTube viewers who’ve also drooled over his homemade cover of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’.
He’s recorded it in his mum’s house. Clearly. As his taut disco vibes glance off family photos in the background and angle a great homage right between the eyes of Nile Rodgers. Job done, Barnett.
It's Nottingham’s Indiana that most have travelled for, though. We’d already fallen for her haunted songs of pop noir in 2013 and it's refreshing to hear the depth of her voice in the goose-bumped flesh. Opening with ‘Never Born’ she quickly flips us into the paranoid ‘Smoking Gun’, one of our earliest memories of her voice and one that still stands stark against its 2014 hopeful peers.
Her sound is on point, too. In fact, Indiana’s stripped-back electronic landscapes are so unbelievably in vogue. Brokered by James Blake, popularised by The xx then governed by a community of new artists such as London Grammar, and now Indiana – this dense tangle of synthy pads, digital drums and ephemeral bass is the perfect bed from which her solid voice can twist into our ears.
Her next single, ‘Solo Dancing’, ramps up the pace with an urgent and minimal low frequency oscillation that you could imagine Lady Madonna going mad for given the chance. She then closes her eight-track set with established single ‘Mess Around’, a calm but contemplative number that definitely leaves us wondering just how far Indiana can climb on the strength of this strong showcase.
Words: Matt Bennett
Photography: Marc Sethi
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