Otherkin – The Cellar, Oxford, 25/05/17

Otherkin tour poster

Otherkin band

Despite the fact that I already had an action-packed week, I couldn’t resist going to this Otherkin show. Not only are they a brilliant band, it was completely free! Being the night before they supported Guns n’ Roses, I don’t think they’ll be playing venues this small again.

Opening up the night were local band Waterfools. I was a little late so I missed the first couple of songs in their set, but from what I heard I was very impressed.

Reminiscent of Cassels – another duo from near Oxford – Wilf Cartwright and Jamie Langford didn’t allow the small number of people in the room to impact upon their performance. They obviously care about the songs they’ve written, because they poured everything they had into the show. The energy level was remarkable: you don’t often see a band putting this much effort in when there’s less than twenty people watching. It’s a shame that they didn’t have a bigger crowd, because they worked their asses off anyway.

‘Need To Know’ was a stand out moment of the set. With a light and funky riff leading into a catchy breakdown, the tone reminded me of rock giants Foo Fighters. No one can be upset with a comparison like that!

The two-piece apologised profusely at multiple points for being rusty due to a lack of practice, but you’d never have known if they hadn’t told you. The songs are very well-written, and Wilf and Jamie complement each other musically. It feels like they’ve been a band for years, because they bounce off of each other so easily.

Waterfools have one EP, ‘Wash’, available for streaming on Soundcloud. Give it a play, then try to check them out live if you can. You won’t regret it when you see the boys in action.

Setlist:


Breathe
Talk Like An Animal
Need To Know
Nothing To Say

Oxford locals Filth combine the best elements of the UK’s most exciting exports. Vocals reminiscent of Rat Boy, guitar lines echoing early Arctic Monkeys and straight-talking lyrics worthy of a Slaves song: they play indie-punk at its finest.

‘Four Pound Eighty’ and ‘No Money New Shoes’ are both tongue-in-cheek, but they tell honest stories which are easy to relate to. ‘Four Pound Eighty’ is about leaving your ticket on the bus, while ‘No Money New Shoes’ is a sneering and sarcastic attack “about people who always say that have no money, but they always turn up with new shoes”. These songs are not revolutionary, but simple is effective. I can’t think of another band who’re writing songs about such universally experienced irritations, even if they are only small, day-to-day occurrences!

The members are young – I’d estimate that they’re still in their teens – and if they continue to be so frank they could find themselves becoming the voice of a generation. It’s not fun to be a young person in the current political and economic climate, and Filth are finding the words to express that.

‘Grapefruit Occupation’ stands out from the other songs in their set. The majority of their set was filled with energetic beats, but this song brought a sombre tone which showed another side to the band. Following it up with ‘Owe It To the Tides’ – which amounted to under a minute of frenetic thrashing – showed they’ve got more tricks up their sleeves.

Filth only have a couple of songs online at the moment, but you definitely need to go and give them a listen. Having played multiple venues around Oxford, it won’t be long until I see this trio again in a bigger setting.

Setlist:

Same Old Him
Four Pound Eighty
Nadine
No Money New Shoes
Grapefruit Occupation
Owe It To the Tides
Free View
A Warm Beer is Better Than You
She’s Alright

I stumbled into Otherkin‘s tent at Reading festival last year, and I was instantly hooked. Vocalist Luke Reilly was whipping the crowd up into a frenzy despite the fact that they were performing very early on the first day. That’s not something you see often.

I knew things were going to get crazy at this headline show. The audience was surprisingly sparse, considering it was free entry, but that’s the peril of playing a show midweek. You never know if people are going to bother to turn out, or if they’re going to be too tired after work. Personally, I was exhausted, but I’m glad I dragged myself. This show was more than worth the effort.

As soon as ‘I Was Born’ began, Luke was off the stage and wandering through the crowd. Weaving his way through the assembled, he pounced back onto the stage and wasted no time in jumping up on the drum kit. Standing on the platform like a king, he continued playing his guitar like it was no big deal. A veritable badass.

“We’re kicking this thing off, and we’re kicking this off right!” he announced to yells and cheers from the crowd. There might not have been hundreds of people crammed into the room, but the ones that were there were committed. Every person was dancing with abandon, flailing their arms around and making crazy shapes throughout each song they played.

The band had the time of their lives. Each member had huge smiles on their faces, unashamed of how happy they were with the audience’s response. After ‘React’, Luke joked, “I was so out of tune on that song, but who gives a fuck!”, and that was the recurring theme throughout the evening. Abandoning all reserve, the room became a safe space: no judgment, no worries, just fun, fun, fun.

Speaking on behalf of the band, Luke shared, “we wanna make sure we get everyone moving and shaking, because we came here to party. We want you all to party with us!”, before turning round and cheekily grinning, announcing, “I’ll come in with you!”. He spent more time in the crowd, on the drum kit and on the bar than he did on the stage. He refused to stay still, despite the fact that the venue was a furnace before they even started playing. By the end of the night, it was a veritable sauna – even the walls and ceiling were damp from the heat!

Luke is one of the most charismatic frontmen I’ve ever encountered. He had the crowd crouching down and jumping up every time the chorus of ‘Yeah, I Know’ kicked in, goading them to get closer and closer to the stage throughout ‘Hardcore’. It all came to a head at the end of the night, during closer ‘Love’s a Liability’. Luke screamed at the crowd to get up on the stage in a mass stage invasion, and they finished the song surrounded by their fans, still dancing without reserve among the members.

Luke summed it up best himself when he closed the set, yelling, “This has been a fucking blast!”. I knew it was going to be energetic and fun, but I didn’t expect to get quite as absorbed as I did. There’s something magnetic and enthralling about Otherkin. I can’t wait to see them again.

Setlist:

I Was Born
Treat Me So Bad
Come On Hello
Feel It
React
Enabler
Howling
Bad Advice
Yeah, I Know
Hardcore
AY, AY
Love’s a Liability