Eclectic treats in the heart of Dalston
While the threat of closing venues continues to haunt the London music scene (and is certainly an ongoing problem across the country), there are still plenty of multi-band events that crop up at select locations that can offer more than pub rock or tribute bands.
The Rocksteady, which is nestled in the heart of Dalston, recently staged a midweek affair that combined a mix of talents for the curious punter. The Rocksteady is an intriguing venue which occupies two floors, with the basement section being curiously both spacious and intimate – a perfect setting for independent acts to perform in.
One of the draws for tonight’s line-up was Ooberfuse, a London-based duo consisting of Hal St John and Cherrie Anderson (an act previously championed on our sister site The Electricity Club). Describing their music as “audio footprints left behind by people impelled towards invisible things”, Ooberfuse’s tunes bounce between electronic rhythms and raw guitar work offset by heartfelt vocals care of Cherrie Anderson.
They open up with ‘One Reality’ (a track taken from their 2017 album The Odd Ones), whose emphatic beats serve as a perfect taster. Certainly, Ooberfuse have some engaging compositions nestling in their live arsenal. ‘Vanish The Night’ has an urgent quality to it emphasised by the electronic rhythms. Anderson’s urgent vocals here augmented by St John’s quick fire rap additions.
The duo’s most recent release is the angsty ‘Call My Name’ (whose ‘travelogue’ video has rapidly clocked up over 21,000 views on YouTube). Here, the track takes on a surprisingly dynamic quality, helped by the bass rhythms which give the whole composition a muscular foundation. There’s still something compelling about Anderson’s evocative vocal delivery however (“Take me, unbreak me/Never forsake me”) which touches the heart, even as your feet are tapping away.
For their closing number, ‘Bitter End’ hits with an emotional punch courtesy of the tune’s earthy percussive beats and Anderson’s ethereal voice. It’s easily one of their strongest tunes which is helped by the back and forth between Anderson and St John’s differing vocal styles.
Also accompanying Ooberfuse on stage for this number is Hibari, a Japanese electronic musician whose staccato vocals give the song a third dimension to move around in.
Hibari’s own set utilises fast electronic beats and a clipped vocal delivery – often switching his voice up a gear care of a handy electronic gizmo which can alter his voice on the fly. Employing a mix of electro, rap and chiptune elements, Hibari is also very physical on stage as he struts back and forth, occasionally giving the mic a worrying fast spin on the end of its cable.
There’s an angular quality to his compositions that occasionally bring to mind glitch elements. At times, the perky nature of some tunes also suggest the day-glo electro-punk stylings of fellow Japanese outfit Polysics. But his set is fast and direct, even if the enigmatic Japanese lyrics might go directly over the audience’s heads.
The final act of the evening are Yesterdays Muddled Goodbyes, a 4-piece outfit whose fuzz guitar workouts have a mesmerising sleazy quality to them. Weaving in elements of shoegaze and a grittier guitar-led sound, Lead singer George Staines delivers vocals that appear to merge into a melange of psychgaze sounds.
‘Tickets To Ride’, by way of an example, offers a slow-burning outing with a heavy percussive base to it. It’s a dark, immersive affair that still has a real thump at its heart.
Some apparent sound issues with the monitors don’t deter Staines and ‘Back To Bothered’ (which he declares as an appropriate track given the tech issues) has a dense almost physical presence to it.
The last song, ‘Desert Island, is a slower outing with a moody bass sound to it. But there’s still that physical, tangible quality at work (so much so, that the benches in the venue are shaking…).
If there’s one thing that can be said about the line-up for this mid-week affair, it’s the eclectic quality of the acts performing. Yet despite the different approaches in style and sound, all of tonight’s bands and artists offer something interesting and invite further listening.