Oscar and the Wolf at Birthdays
As a bright-eyed, spotty teenager a free live gig often meant seeing a friend’s band play in your local pub’s grotty back room, until they got told to keep the noise down or so much of the crowd left that they had to stop playing out of awkwardness. Upon walking through the double basement doors of a swanky Hackney bar and being blinded by several ultra-powerful buzzing stage lights, it’s very clear that tonight’s free gig won’t be reminiscent of those of teenage past.
The band stepping out in front of these hypnotic lights tonight is Belgian outfit Oscar and the Wolf, an act that seem to transcend fixed genres as their sound is what would happen if Bjork had a baby with Lorde – in a good way. After a very delayed start – almost half an hour in fact – the boys kick off with an atmospheric opener that would impress even the hardest audience. Despite the lateness, there are still noticeable glitches with the bass, overshadowing the rest of the music and reverberating aggressively around the intimate venue.
One factor that cannot be disputed is the brilliance of frontman Max Colombie’s voice: even with technical issues his vocal performance is hauntingly gripping. Although it is almost impossible to distinguish the clarity of his lyrics, the emotion behind it is chantingly melancholic. Colombie’s ability to enthral a room full of people with his David Gray-esque voice is unique, and combined with the rather spectacular light show occurring behind the boys, the viewers are left in a hypnotic daze, as if watching a super glitzy live music video.
Musically the band provide a sharply contrasting platform to the lead singers’ vocals, as the polished synth-inspired sounds cruise along in the background creating music that seems alien to the voice while unusually complementing it – a fascinating paradox. Songs like Princes display the best of both aspects, adding to the dark tone with some awkwardly quirky dance moves chucked in for a bit of a visual treat. Although Oscar and the Wolf may rely on Colombie to give them their edge this is nothing to be ashamed of; judging by their live show they will soon be swapping their free basement gigs for London’s finest echoey venues, designed for them.
For further information and future events visit Oscar and the Wolf’s website here.
Watch the video for Princes here: