Reviewed on Tuesday June 3
Sydney-based punks Born Lion threw down an energetic set, getting the early birds warmed up with some “fucking riffs!” All four of the guys threw themselves into playing, with singer John jumping off stage with his guitar and playing their last two tracks toe-to-toe with the crowd.
Any band that has a Jay-Z song as their hype track is a band I’m keen to see, and Royal Blood did not disappoint. The Brighton duo only has a four-track EP to its name, but the buzz is building. An album is rumoured to be on the way, and they broke up the songs the enthusiastic crowd knew with fresh material including ‘Loose Change’ and the epic bass-driven ‘Figure It Out’.
Royal Blood began their set with an unwound, muddier version of ‘Holes’. Bassist Mike Kerr sat deeper in the track while drummer Ben Thatcher played around with the pace, revealing a streak of almost-blues that flirted with an early Black Keys tone. ‘Come On Over’ was a borderline riotous shout along, earning an enthusiastic “fuck yeah!” from a beer-brandishing punter. Fair call.
‘Little Monster’, the closest thing they’ve got to a ballad, blew out to a wall of sound in the chorus, which garnered enthusiastic head banging and Instagramming from the audience. An extended ‘Out Of The Black’ rounded out the solid set and saw the guys hit their stride, giving the audience a peek into what practice probably looks like – Kerr beat out the melody on bass while Thatcher rose with the chorus crescendo, playing the drums practically standing up. By the time Kerr was yelling, “I’ve got a gun for a mouth and a bullet with your name on it,” the crowd rose and fell with them in the breakdown. The packed-out Oxford Art was a great way to see a band still in its early stages – it was short, fast and loud, making for a hell of a good time.