Live Review: Ought (Sound of the Underground)

1 Ought Band

Just them and the big, beautiful blue sky: Ought prepare for sundown (photo: wikipedia.org)

Ought

Village Underground, Shoreditch, London (01/09/15)

Ought first came to my attention at last year’s Green Man festival. After stumbling unassumingly into their afternoon show in the Far Out tent, I was almost immediately hypnotised by the band’s springy, twitchy garage-rock energy and the magnetic countenance of frontman Tim Darcy; the flâneur whose witty, flouncing manner rivals that of Jarvis Cocker, though with the latter’s clipped burr replaced by a highly distinctive Canadian twang. One year on, that original, energetic excitement hasn’t waned, thanks to the frenetic clout of their début record and catching an additional live show in November.

In support of their – really rather good – new record Sun Coming Down, the group packed themselves into the humid caverns of Shoreditch’s Village Underground, in front of a shuffling crowd whose collective admiration was unshowy, though perceptible. The din ensuing from the stage was ear-shreddingly mighty, yet clear; a post-punk clamour that smartly masks a technical acuity, with drummer Tim Keen and bassist Ben Stidworthy keeping the jackknifing rhythms and tempo changes on course. The sonic mutations since last year’s More Than Any Other Day can be heard in the density of the new material showcased: ‘Men For Miles’, ‘Passionate Turn’ and ‘The Combo’ are all characterised by much thicker, busier guitar work, each song cresting on waves of end-of-tether heaviness as opposed to ducking and diving on the likes of stalwarts such as ‘The Weather Song’.

Yet while the meatiness of Sun Coming Down sounds much more apparent on record, in a live capacity, the seams between old and new are more neatly stitched. Long-time live staple ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’ has finally seen its day in the sun as a single, and thanks to greater familiarity, its themes punched home all the harder. Coming off as the flipside to the magnificent ‘Today, More Than Any Other Day’, its plodding bass motif saw Darcy nudged towards a grinding cycle of mundane mantras, repeated ad finitum. As with Julian Casablancas in The Strokes’ strongest work, one of Darcy’s most effective skills is bringing a friction to the band’s performance through his knowingly somnolent drawl, which frequently erupts into wails during the throes of songs such as ‘Habit’; a six-minute monster led by a stealthy bass riff that reverberated around the Village Underground like a nagging itch.

The whole band deserve plaudits for a thick, intoxicating set, but Darcy performed particularly brilliantly throughout; a magnetic presence even in his more sedate moments. Between tearing the neck off of his apocalyptically loud guitar and drunkenly waving his arms aloft like some wiry prophet, it was impossible to remove one’s eyes from his lean, tense figure. Soaked in sweat by the relentless crush of main set-closer ‘Gemini’, he and his bandmates looked every inch the subversive upstarts whose tunes have struck a nerve with an increasingly large crowd. As a preview for Sun Coming Down and a glimpse into the current mechanics of their fine-tuned operation, Ought’s show was promising on every level.

Setlist

Pleasant Heart // The Weather Song // The Combo // Beautiful Blue Sky // Today, More Than Any Other Day // Habit // Passionate Turn // Men For Miles // Sun’s Coming Down // Gemini // Around Again // Waiting

03/09/15

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Posted on September 3, 2015, in The Music World and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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