Future Perfect nights at Oxford’s answer to the Cavern Club rarely disappoint and with Cambridge carnage creators Sports Team headlining this was no exception. London indie four-piece Old Swing were up first. Their studio sound is mirage-like melodies, supporting soft summery vocals. However, in the shoebox sized Cellar the drums stole the show, giving these guys a grittier edge. Rhythm and lead mixed perfectly, at times feeding us funk, at others sounding like synths, and the bass was bubonically infectious. They ended on ‘Time’ – but we wanted them to go on (haha). Already a well-known crowd-pleaser, a rocked-up rhythm and extended outro sealed the deal on a performance which was both solid and soulful.
Next up were Buckinghamshire threesome SEAFOAM. Kicking things off with ‘Distractions’ it was clear these guys were a well drilled unit. Jim Terrill’s vocals cut clearly through his reverbed guitars and the rhythm section kept it exciting. Again, these guys sound like summer, but to tonight proved to be men for all seasons. ‘Outside’, the opening track of their debut EP of the same name, is falsetto indie-pop personified, but was immediately followed by the Nirvana-tinged ‘the End’.
But it wasn’t the end. The guys debuted a few new tracks, all of which hit the mark. At times they sounded like MacDemarco, but at half the speed and with double the soul, at others they had the bubbling bass of the Growlers. But they should stick to the singing; having an irritating tendency to add unnecessary spoken word pieces into songs. Why try and be a poet when you’ve nailed being a singer? This was only a minor complaint, however, on a performance which had both strength and depth.
These two bands laid the foundations for the electrifying energy which peaked as Sports Team took to the stage. These guys are so laid back they’re horizontal (a fact demonstrated by singer Alex Rice’s frequent lying down), but they’re far from lazy: with a fit, rather than Fat, White Family aesthetic. They careered, cranium-first into the chaotic ‘Camel Crew’, but despite the live madness Alex’s theatrical vocals and the shouted responses from the other bandmembers could be clearly heard.
The six-piece met while studying at Cambridge and released their debut EP Winter Nets earlier this year. On the music video for their best track, ‘Beverly Rose’, Alex takes the mick – now, live, he takes the mic wandering into the audience. He is the perfect frontman, cracking jokes between tracks before dancing behind the microphone which appears to be part Ian Curtis, part Pentecostal worship. This is all countered by a maracas player who mad dogged the audience the entire time – looking like Bez on an unhappy Monday.
They have variety: ‘Kutcher’ is a fast-paced rocker, ‘Winter Nets’ – indie perfection. It all finished too soon, but ‘Stanton’ is the perfect closer. With its twelve-bar rhythm, fantastic opening lyric, and gradual build to chaotic crescendo it was no wonder the moshing monsters were out in full force.
By the time the band left the stage and I left Cellar rain was falling. Summer was over, but Sports Team are just beginning. Mind you catch them while you can – I don’t think they’ll be playing in the lower tiers for long.