Live Review: The Sunshine Underground at Oxford Academy – 5th May 2009

By on Wednesday, 6th May 2009 at 12:52 am
 

Sunshine Underground live (side)It’s late 2006 and a friend pushes a CD into my hands. “You’ll love this”, she whispered. Bearing in mind that this same friend had said that I’d love the new Britney album at the time, I wasn’t holding out much hope. However, when I pressed play, The Sunshine Underground blew me away. It was like the early 90s had come back, got good and very very catchy. Sadly I missed them on the NME tour in 2007 when they toured with Klaxons and CSS but finally they decided to come to Oxford, where I caught them tonight.

First, however, we had the sypport, Exit Calm and hotly tipped Boy Crisis

Take the crazy lovechild of The Verve of the mid 90s on their most drug hazed days, kasabian on their most reverb filled days and sigur ros on a very bad day and you end up with Exit Calm. Multi coloured search lights spread out over the Academy 2 (probably better known as the Zodiac for those of you who remember the days before Oxford’s premier music venue was refurbed). Perfectly competent, their 30 minute set featured dreamy, reverb filled numbers and potential titans of the record buying public. The downside? Vocals buried beneath the layers of effects peddles, barely audible. Shame, as I think Nicky Smith probably has some interesting things to say, if only we could hear them.

When Newsweek ran a cover story about falling standards among young men, a problem the magazine attributed to the “biologically disrespectful education system” as well as to the different ways in which male (compared to female) brains are hardwired. Their term for this phenomenon was “Boy Crisis”, and with that passing comment, five Brooklyn based boys thought it would be good to call themselves that, and in the process become a new buzz band of the blogging elite. But after that quick biology lesson, do they live up to the hype? Well, much like MGMT, Hockey, LCD Soundsystem and most US party bands before them, you need to be drunk to get the best out of them. Unlike MGMT and LCD Soundsystem however, when you’re sober Boy Crisis aren’t up to much – fun and funky they maybe, but ultimately they’re a poor younger “me-too” step brother to the indie dance megastars. Feel free to crucify me now, readers of Pitchfork, Stereogum et al.

After a quick clean of the stage, time for the headliners, Leeds based Sunshine Underground. Having overheard someone comment from a fellow audience member about them playing mostly new stuff, I was a tad concerned – most of times that bands do this it’s to show their “radical new direction” that ultimately leads to their lack of a record deal in coming months and a drastically shortened publicity trail and tour. However, it was great to see that this was far from the case.

The vast majority of the songs they played during their 70 minute set were new ones, and whilst I had no idea of the lyrics, they’re frankly amazing. Any band that can get their fans jumping around as much for a new track as their old album tracks is definately on to a winner in my eyes. The old songs took on a bigger sound, fuller and with a few nice changes – “Borders” with a slow and tender beginning before plunging straight in. The new stuff sounds absolutely huge – if their first album was meant to fill pubs and small clubs, their forthcoming album is going to be filling Academies, such is the power – they’re not quite at stadium sized yet, but certainly huge anthems.

“This is “The Way it Is”, and it’s my favourite track from “Raise the Alarm” – FACT!” joked Craig just over halfway through. Not the chattiest frontman I’ve seen, he lets the songs do the talking, with The Way It Is sounding particuarly huge – hypnotic at times, it seems all the “Raise the Alarm” tracks have been given a massive make over to become, well, huge.

Have I expressed my love for these four Leeds lads enough yet? Their second album is sounding amazing from their show at the Oxford Academy, be sure to check them out on tour (though many of the dates are sold out now). They’ll also be blogging their way through their tour on their official website.

MP3: The Sunshine Underground & FC Kahuna – From The City To The Sea

After the jump: More pictures.

Sunshine Underground live #1

Sunshine Underground live #1

Sunshine Underground live #3

Sunshine Underground live #1

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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