Posted on by: acid stag

Friends + Howler + Zulu Winter: Gig Review

I was quite surprised when I walked into a packed Oxford Arts Factory on Wednesday, July 25 considering it was the eve of most people’s trip to Byron for some festival I don’t want to talk about. Nevertheless, the show was a decent substitute showcasing a great triple bill of young and upcoming bands.

First up were London five piece Zulu Winter who started off the night with an entertaining set ripping through the majority of debut album Language, released earlier this year. They were surprisingly upbeat live, something I didn’t actually expect on the night, and the crowd responded accordingly.

Tracks ‘Key To My Heart,’ ‘Silver Tongue’ and my personal favourite ‘Let’s Move Back To Front’ were tightly performed. However, it was the band’s first single ‘We Should Be Swimming’ that scored the biggest response. All in all Zulu Winter put on a great show and I will definitely be awaiting their return. Expect big things from them in the not too distant future.

Next up were young Minneapolis band Howler, trying to live up to the hype generated upon the release of debut album America Give Up, and being placed in NME’s top 10 bands to watch in 2012.

I’ve heard people talk about this band’s live performance, saying that 19 year old front man Jordan Gatesmith is way too “cocky and arrogant.” I did notice this but I think it’s great that such a young performer can have the confidence to be bit of a dick, considering this is their first time in Australia. Like Zulu Winter, Howler played majority of their album including ‘Beach Sluts,’ ‘America’ and ‘Back To The Grave’ before finishing up with the single ‘Back Of Your Neck,’ which obviously garnered the loudest response. Though there wasn’t much of a “show,” it was still enough to keep the Wednesday night crowd at OAF dancing around and in party mood while we waited for Friends to hit the stage.

Next was my highlight of the night Friends. Was it because the bass player looked like she was on crack? Maybe, but mostly because they were so gosh darn entertaining from start to finish. Playing most of album Manifest! as well as a cover of a song that you say you don’t know until you hear it – Ghost Town DJs’ ‘My Boo.’ Lead vocalist Samantha Urbani has a little bit of a Peaches meets Mariah Carey type vibe; in the sense that she has a great RnB voice, but parties on stage à la Peaches.

There wasn’t a song in the set that had people looking at their watch or waiting to go home. Especially when Samantha decided to jump down into the crowd during track ‘Sorry’ and boogie with everyone in the front.

They continued through their set playing ‘Friend Crush,’ ‘A Thing Like This’ and first single off the album ‘I’m His Girl’ interacting well with the crowd in-between songs. After Friends played their last song a good majority of the crowd headed for the doors. Those lucky enough to stick around were rewarded with Friends coming back on stage for an encore. The band launched into ‘Home’ and Samantha came back down to party with what was now a much smaller crowd at OAF, getting covered in punters’ sweat.

Ryan Le Bon

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