Oscar at The Black Heart
Given the precedent set by the dinginess of the venue, not to mention the unapologetic raw noise of the support act, bedroom rockers Our Girl, it’s somewhat unnerving when the promise of a constant and impenetrable wall of sound is not immediately fulfilled. It takes precious seconds to recalibrate expectations for the carefree, richly melodic tone that Oscar strikes in their opening track, but after a brief change of bandwagons it becomes all too apparent that what this artist offers is much preferable to the alternative. It’s rock music, of that there can be no doubt, but refreshingly it’s not brought down by the stolid weight of angst.
Just as refreshingly, the band never confines itself to its inevitable abundance of guitars. The sounds of the synthesiser in Told Me So, the innocence of the whistling in Forget Me Not, and the bewitching harmony of male and female vocals throughout are proof that Oscar is no mass produced product of the rock and pop factory. It’s a uniqueness that extends to the lyrics too, although they struggle to assert themselves atop powerful guitar chords and thunderous drums. The tunefulness of Beautiful Words, the title track of the band’s new EP, speaks of an optimism you wouldn’t expect to find in a venue like this. This music is designed to evoke the innocent, the happy-go-lucky, the honest, and yet it still packs enough punch to be taken seriously.
The climactic Sometimes, theoretically the final track of the set, is the master stroke, a joyous, ass-kicking celebration that evokes the Dandy Warhols or the Black Keys. It’s not subtle, but it is a lot of fun, and you can tell the band are enjoying themselves just as much as the audience. After such an energetic, no-holds-barred finale, an encore seems superfluous but they offer one anyway: Still Like You really isn’t any more remarkable than what came before it, but the set is short enough as it is that any further chance to indulge in this rare reprieve from gloominess is an opportunity to be relished.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information about Oscar and future events visit here.
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