Written by Cal Cashin and Harley Cassidy
Taking place in Oxford Street’s 100 Club, Fred Perry Subculture’s All Our Tomorrows is an exemplarily curated voyage to the heart of new music today. From the heady guitar music whirlwinds of Sons of Raphael and Black Country New Road to the pop music contortions of Audiobooks and Jockstrap, there was ultimately something on offer to make anybody feel excited about the future of music. And if 12 artists weren’t enough to whet the whistle, top DJs segue the artists effortlessly, beginning with a wonderful set from Queen Kong of Kaya Kaya records.
Jerskin Fendrix is the pop sensation we don’t deserve, tall, slender and elegant as he takes to the 100 Club stage. Opening proceedings with a storming version of latest single ‘Swamp’, he prances around the stage solo, crooning like Sinatra stuck in a time warp atop phantasmagoric off-kilter pop beats. Today is Jerskin’s actual birthday, but his sonic crusade is a celebration in its own right; as he stands on stage in a flowing white shirt, his set is a total celebration of pop joy, singular weirdness and genreless expression.
Particles of warped electronics fill the 100 Club courtesy of Jockstrap, an unassuming collective that balances the complex and sparse with graceful ease. Georgia Ellery’s vocals touch upon the neo-soul of Erykah Badu, beautiful yet jarring amongst the plinky PC production and detached visualisation of their performance. Hands are frequently placed behind backs, eyes stare out unblinkingly into the crowd, instruments are pulled out without a second glance; they’re an interesting unit to watch and with such a wide array of sounds and textures under their belts, their career will be fascinating.
Heavenly Records’ newest synth pop duo, Audiobooks are a deadly proposition. David Wrench sits calm and collected at the control panel of various synths and keyboards, whilst Evangeline Ling is the complete opposite, a frenzied demonic performer, spitting short stories venomous as she parades around the stage. It’s really difficult to quantify the idea of performers having ‘the perfect energy’, but that’s just what Audiobooks radiate; Ling performs with so much spark and attitude, a figure of almost impish fury, while Wrench occasionally bops his silver mop with heavy reservations. The band release their debut album next month, and boy, will it be a treat.
Black Country, New Road
Cambridge group Black Country, New Road are one of the country’s most exciting new talents. Today, they line up in battle formation; a saxophonist, a violinist, a synth player, a bassist, and a guitarist; as the latter stirs their mammoth set into life with some caustic spoken word poetry. Unassuming to look at, Black Country, New Road sound like a proper filthy juggernaut of a band, a real experience to behold. At times, colossal metal riffs mangle with frenetic jazz freakouts; occasionally film noir string motifs are motored into the urgent present with a razortight rhythm section, and all the while, the group acknowledge nothing going on around them, aside from their own cues. Seldom interacting with the audience, Black Country New Road are only playing something like their fourth gig, but already their sets feel like special cathartic events.
Sons Of Raphael
There’s a hefty cloak of intrigue masking Sons Of Raphael; boarding school disciples with an endless stream of quotable anecdotes, they possess a fervent interest in religion, most notably, its darkest side. Their strain of rock and roll is raw, innate and feeds further into the notion that distortion can operate as a singular entity, especially on the filthily good, ‘Rio’. If you let yourself gaze past the walls of droning garage rock, their imagery is bewildering, their lyrics haunting and their presence somewhat unnerving. Despite frontman, Ronnel’s features being obscured by a mop of seriously impressive hair and jet-black sunglasses, you can still feel the wild-eyed nihilism that emanates from his being, leaving people half-impressed, half-bewildered.
A breathless Dylan Cartlidge takes to the stage after a “110mph journey” from up North. An instantly likeable character who borrows from the same handbook as Miguel if Jack White had penned a page or two, his infectious, angular funk leaves smiles scattered across the 100 Club. He is an appreciative presence, with ‘Scratch, Sniff’ unfolding into an all-out jam that blurs the lines between any given genre and amplified by a voice that is doused in old-school soul and charm.
If one thing can be discerned from any performance at the 100 Club tonight, it’s that genres can exist without boundaries. Every musician breathes and plays through a cornucopia of influences and tastes which makes the all-dayer seem like a breeze. ALASKALASKA are the best example of this; their sound melds jazz, art-pop, disco and R&B noir into a porcelain smooth groove that is hard not to let loose to. The London six-piece leave nothing unexplored; the hazy guitar work and meandering harmonies are akin to that of Warpaint whilst their mercurial nature brings Blood Orange to mind, all bolstered by the crisp, clean-cut vocals of Lucinda John-Duarte (what a name), which sit stark and exposed amongst the rambunctious noise.
After Radio 6’s Tom Ravenscroft clambers from behind the decks, finishing his indomitable DJ set, a new musical force take to the stage. Backed by a few cheeky pals, Dublin emcee Kojaque is among the most instantly likeable stage presences you’ll ever see. He zips around the stage with glee, bounding around and rapping in a thick Irish drawl. The highlight comes when he asks a captivated audience: “Do you know what night it is, London? It’s… Date Night”, before careering into a lively interpretation of his single of the same name. Charming, but ultimately very touching, Kojaque’s set is a delight.
Skinny Pelembe is a trip-hop troubadour who moved from Johannesburg to Doncaster and now resides in London. He creates and performs beautifully abstract pieces of music that grow with the 100 Club’s sweltering crowd and generate insightful remarks that vary from ‘dope tune’ to ‘this is sick’. The key ingredient to Skinny’s formula is the richness of his personality, which shines through the subtle psych/hip-hop production with his music a constant to-and-fro between the unconscious and subconscious to ultimately create an endearingly honest expression of thought. A truly natural performer.
Puma Blue is an incredibly apt name for Jacob Allen’s alter-ego; the actual basis of his sound is doused in the blues, in both influence and emotiveness. It’s undoubtedly the shade you’d pick out of a mass Dulux colour chart if you had to paint images of his smooth yet murky King Krule sounding morsels. And the puma part? Well, pumas are the slinkiest of the animal kingdom, which is the only rational way to describe his lo-fi, jazz inflected sound. The sublime ‘Want Me’ is a particular highlight, melting into a deeply satisfying saxophone solo that sounds like it could be on an M&S advert. As you watch him on stage, he channels a raw energy that seeks harmony and purity in a way that is completely mesmerising. It’s strange, as he clearly uses vulnerability as his biggest strength, a move that is risky at the best of times. Being so wrapped up in an artist’s emotions, especially in a live setting, can make you feel almost intrusive, but Puma Blue leaves you in safe hands.
After Jamz Supernova’s explosive DJ set, another emerging force in South London today takes to the stage. Denzel Himself is a provocateur of an exclusively gnarled brand of hip-hop. A commanding figure on stage, he starts the set, with his movements calm and assertive, before getting increasingly frenzied by the minute. He’s joined onstage by KEYAH/BLU for a fiery version of ‘Melty’, before he’s carried off-stage, up the 100 Club stairs and onto Oxford Street by adoring fans. As distinctive as his brazen beats and intuitive flow, Denzel Himself will surely blow up very soon.
Our headline band arrive onstage just after ten, with vocalist Geordie Greep sporting a bright red polo neck. Since even before their first single, the combo were the talk of London venues’ smoking areas and live rooms, but following the release of debut single ‘bmbmbmbm’, the Croydon band have really come into their own. Dizzying Pere Ubu-style vocals imprint themselves on the group’s math-rocky splendour, as Black Midi reel through future classics one after another. A volcanic version of early track ‘Ducter’ is a highlight, before they close their set with a screeching version of their aforementioned debut single. Everything about BLACK MIDI looks so effortless, and everything that this unit create is golden; they’ve said that they just want to release loads of good records, one after another. And who are we to stand in their way?
As day turns to night and BLACK MIDI leave the stage, Radio 1’s Phil Taggart rounds off a triumphant event in the best way possible: by playing a fine platter of soul, jazz and funk for any stragglers still clinging on to the prospect of hedonism on a late Sunday evening.
All images by Ellen Offredy and Phoebe Fox.