‘The last time we played this, the roof fell down!’
GLASS ANIMALS ARE on the cusp of something truly great. Zaba is a good album, their live performance was entertaining and the group (especially Dave Bayley) have a certain panache on stage that will take them far. But they have a way to go to ensure they survive in their self-created jungle.
Oval Space’s roof didn’t fall down for Glass Animals this time. It is too structurally sound. The space perfectly demonstrates why a venue is so important in the overall experience of a live gig. Despite having a surprisingly low stock of cranberry juice (as a mixer I might add), Oval Space contributed to the mystic, cryptic and quirky nature of the Oxford four-piece band through its charming setting, alluring lighting and effortless nature. It isn’t a place that tries to be cool; it is naturally cool, in true Bill Murray fashion. Set at the foot of a derelict gasworks that is now a landmark in Hackney, Oval Space does any band a favour even before instruments are played with the stunning view, the great service and the fact that you are in a 6000 square foot space dedicated to entertainment.
We wondered from the fairy lit terrace bar into the main gig room, drawn in by a melodic voice, reminiscent of Lana Del Ray, along with a basey rift. Laura Cope was the special guest, but she acted more as a timid support act. Cope and her band didn’t have much of a stage presence, becoming more of a background, interval artist as oppose to someone who would stand out and make a name for herself. Having said this, Cope has an incredible voice that is complimented by bass heavy music. With such mellow music, live performances are difficult to master, however, after watching Glass Animals, I’m sure Laura has a few ideas of how to ramp up her seemingly shy persona on stage.
9 o’clock hit. A few double gin and cranberries down and we were ready for the main act, not sure of what to expect. Paul Epworth, the man who has worked with Friendly Fires, Bloc Party, Florence and Adele, signed Glass Animals to his record label ‘Wolf Tone’ as his first signing. However, despite this great name backing them, Glass Animals have been closely compared to the likes of Alt J, Friendly Fires and even Vampire Weekend, with many critics claiming Glass Animals to be pretty unoriginal. This gig would help us decide if these critics were correct or not. 9.30pm, and the band emerge onto the jungle dressed stage that represents their tribal, electronic and bass heavy sounds.
From the off, Dave Bayley blessed the stage with his child like excitement, bouncing around in a disjointed form of dance. The band had clearly altered their album, making it more lively for the live audience. The drummer solos were a welcome addition to transform the previously mellow tunes into a dance inducing frenzy, whilst holding the signature sounds of the well-known songs intact – effortless, just like the venue.
The promising thing about this band is the fact that they (with the help of Paul Epworth) have recognised the need for them to adapt their ‘Zaba’ album for a live audience and still make it work. Bayley’s energy on stage gets the crowd moving, and with his modest and appreciative grin throughout the performance, its difficult to not like this down to earth band. Sure, their sound isn’t as unique as we initially thought, but they have hooked people nonetheless, including us at neighbourhood noise.
Glass Animals have the makings of a truly great band, and I reckon their second album will exceed all expectations following this, bluntly put, good debut.
Look out for future Oval Space events, with our next Oval Space feature covering their Halloween special film screening of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered’.