Kate Boy and Joywave at XOYO
Among the T-shirt-wearing young indie hipsters and plugged-in 30-somethings in the smoky low-lit basement of Old Street nightclub XOYO, there is a neon sign that reads “I Feel Love”. For one band in particular in tonight’s line up, the statement was indeed a personal experience rightfully rewarded.
After a non-existent introduction, alternative rock band Joywave ironically showed very little jubilance as they entered the stage. They looked uncomfortable throughout, vocalist Daniel Armbruster never significantly communicating with the audience. He isn’t your typical rock heartthrob, but similarly geeky Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip dismisses his disadvantages with self-assured charisma whereas Armbruster seemed nervous, distracted and disconcerted. Technical faults and a failed attempt at humour only made matters worse. On a positive note they concluded with the single Tongues, which gained notoriety for its controversially explicit music video. Disappointingly they didn’t show the same unpredictable eccentricity on stage, and while the video promo for their collaborative project with Big Data, Dangerous, was splattered with blood red, tonight’s performance was beige.
Swedish music excelled itself, however, climbing to new heights with the thrilling Kate Boy. Suspense flowed across the stage as undefinable instruments replaced the ordinary toolbox and tribal drumming, creating an atmospheric platform for their synth-pop extravaganza, with Northern Lights being a particular highlight. A key principle in Swedish culture is equality, and the band’s name and their uniform aesthetic of camouflage black skeleton hoodies and baseball caps showed an admirable team mentality.
There is a distinct identity among Swedish virtuosos that bypasses the notion of ego in favour of musical integrity. The band appeared vaguely through the darkness as shadowy figures throughout their set, which allowed the audience to focus on a hard-working, energetic, passionate and artistically intelligent showcase without the need for unnecessary individualism. Most notably, compatriots The Knife and Lykke Li pioneered music-focused and dramatic electronic performances, and Kate Boy have learned from the best.
Incredibly, devotees from Brazil and Spain traveled to London tonight to witness a trio without a debut album because this promising band has such an impact. Kate Boy are obtaining fan-bases thick and fast by ensuring that every audience, whether big or small, feels their love.
Matt Taylor Hobbs
Photos: Simon M K Crow
For further information about Kate Boy and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Northern Lights by Kate Boy here: