The bitter January weather is hugely contrasted with overwhelming waves of teenage body warmth as soon as you take your first step into the Old Blue Last. The bar is almost non–existent upstairs due to the tightly-crammed turn out and although a free gig, I suppose this is the price you pay. I swiftly order two Spiced Rum and Cokes for myself to avoid the treacherous journey across to the bar again and famous faces make up the crowd: The Big Moon, Theo Ellis of Wolf Alice and Kristian Bell of The Wytches.
People are literally standing on each others toes by the time the first band are ready to play as numerous drunken barges are immediately met with apologies. Four-piece Trudy have the most difficult set of the night, kicking off the event but to an uncomfortable and straight-faced East London crowd. They look good and have all the aesthetics a mid-nineties Blur would, but the sound is different. Although there are undeniable ‘borrows’ from the likes of Albarn and Co. they present the crowd with a happy go lucky, 50’s throwback melodies that are intoxicating and cause the straight faces to bop. Frontman Oliver Taylor finger-picks his red Danelectro Guitar he wears tightly round his chest like a weapon, and his distinctive vocals offer numerous personalities throughout the set. If you were just to listen to the music you wouldn’t be sure whether they all had a quiffs or were all wearing Fila Jackets. It is different, but it really works and it appears DIY saved the best until first.
Equally entertaining is 20 year old singer songwriter Willie J Healey. His attempt to humour the audience is met with the sound of a cricket and lost tumbleweed but thankfully his set fully reinforced that he is on stage for all the right reasons. Dreamy surfer riffs are at the forefront of the perfomance as Willie’s barrotone but youthful vocals tell teenage tales of ‘Sneaking out of bedroom windows’ and ‘Beauty Queens’. Undeniably inspired by more recent singer-songwriters like Mac Demarco, his band are a pleasure to listen too as it almost sounds like they’re playing underwater. The backing vocalists repeat the line ‘When I was young and I had fun’ providing Willie with the freedom to below his deepest bedroom thoughts to the now fixated audience, rounding off his set with perfection.
The 1990’s appears to be a mutual interest amongst the four bands playing tonight, and it doesn’t get more 90’s than Bruising. They jump straight into their first number Can’t You Feel with conviction and their energy is undeniable. The frontwoman has a ‘fuck you’ haircut and flutters her eyes in a way reminiscent to Justin Frischmann. The guitar stings the ears of the audience like an early Elastica performance, but only watered down: much like the Ice in my second Rum and Coke by this point. Despite the appealing look of the band the melodies are often repeated far too often and are commonly drowned out by a heavy Pixies-esque bassline or guitar screeches.
New York band Diet Cig do not provide the normal sound expected from a two-piece as they round off the night with some cheesy American Indie-pop. The lyrics are very substandard compared to the bands we heard before and the cringy ‘it’s cool because it’s not cool’ attitude of frontwoman Alex Luciano is unbearable. Despite the unimpressed sour faces of the London crowd, she continue to sarcastically prance of stage and stick her tongue out to no amusement whatsoever. It is made easy to get distracted during one of their songs and each one ends with the odd sporadic clap from the now tiring audience.
It was a successful and entertaining night at the Old Blue Last but could have been made much better with opposite set times.
Words by Dan Judd