So there we were on a snowy Saturday night in Shoreditch at XOYO knee deep with all East London has to offer; snobbish door men, over priced drinks and people who pay well to look poor; we were at least treated to a show with true grit and flourishing artistry.
Men’s Adventures stroll out on stage with a new look line-up but still with the same glint in their eye and swagger in their boots. Alfie and the boys have obviously given themselves a clear aesthetic and to some, I imagine, it’s hard to get passed. When the band from England stroll on stage like a bandit gang from the Wild West it’s bound to put noses out of joint. However, this lot come from Hackney and you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger ‘bandit town’ right now.
Looks aside, Men’s Adventures know how to play. All of them seasoned instrumentalists we were treated to a Cash style performance with Jimmy Casson providing the energy and Alfie Smith bringing the attitude. With tracks like ‘Deep Freeze Virgins’ and ‘Underwater the crowd was pulled along with dropping drums and guitars which gathered speed and left us at the side of a sombre, dusty road, thirsty for more.
The set, in total was like an iron clad wagon wheel; heavy, retro but authentic and really picked up speed towards the end with a last hurrah in BB. ‘Vulture’, a number that smacks of a single brings with it the bounce and the rock ‘n’ roll to rival the country.
On amble O Children, a band that has been signed for a few years now and are champions of our surrounding. Shoreditch sweethearts at their woolly-hatted best. They bring with them a distinctly more art driven sound. Clearly influenced by bands such as Bloc Party and Foals, Tobi O’Kandi and his band of tiny men (in comparison at least) brought an entirely different sound. Where Men’s Adventures had a maturity and subtlety, O Children have upbeat drums, fuzzy, choppy riffs and an adolescent arrogance that fitted the bill.
The oldies such as ‘Dead Disco Dancer’ and ‘Malo’ are moody and dark but despite Tobi’s tongue in cheek references to “Magaluf 2013” (a jibe at the sound man’s poor skills and his complete incomprehension of how a guitar should sound) the rest of the set has a clear dance influence and draws on the recent influx of 90’s trance currently drowning East London.
The new tunes are very different from their first eponymous release which was pulsating, dark and epitomised by O’Kandi’s deep tenor voice. ‘Yours For You’ brought some life and vibrancy to the night and live, O Children brought a bit of needed jump to the party but sadly after dealing with the almost constant feedback and then Harry James’ bass amp cutting out the band and the crowd were left a little deflated. Although they came through with their normal swagger and new dance floor fillers they were unable to get a predominantly DJ loving crowd truly salivating.
With a night of sound man faults and technical the true class of these two bands struggled to shine through but shine they did. Both come with a fresh take on the alternative scene. Men’s Adventures are spitting and snarling like a spaghetti western with better guitars and O Children are bringing a bit more colour to an otherwise predictable scene. Both the bands are strong enough to push through the and become prominent in the coming year. They’ve got the look but have they got the luck?