Let it never, ever be said, that The Ocelot doesn’t know how to throw a party. It does; I know so, I have been to many. And the very fact that I have very little recollection of any of them is surely hard evidence that they were damn fine. However, it also makes reviewing the music a somewhat challenging undertaking. But, never one to shirk from my responsibilities I shall do my best to remember what on earth went down on June 6th 2014 at The Victoria in Swindon.
First thing to say about the night was that, much to everyone’s disappointment, Ocelot editor Jamie didn’t fall of the stage, thereby ruining his fine and hard earned reputation for accidental stage diving. Still, we did not let the lack of slapstick editor idiocy ruin the night, as the booze was plentiful and the music was pretty fine indeed.
Openers The Racket feel like a new band, not one that has been kicking around for a few years. Having had a bit of a break from action last year, they had obviously spent a lot of time reworking their sound and changing format, bringing in an additional guitarist, who added a new dimension in a second vocal. It has been nothing short of transformative. The songs are as spikey as before but with extra layers and depths that give them way more space to play in. The rip into their set, still relishing playing live (this is only the 2nd gig of their comeback) and an enthusiastic audience respond to the nearly all new set with as much relish as the band. The new Racket sound more like Oasis than a punked up Libertines now, and they have polished off much of the anarchy and rawness that made them so exciting in the first place, but it is still The Racket. Just a much more grown up version.
Typical of an Ocelot night, nothing is played straight. The music is a real mix, so true to this ethos we move on to Reading / Oxford darlings Vienna Ditto. Now, I have made no secret of my love for this band, and as usual, that love was fully vindicated, and embellished, as they turned in another stellar set. One of the things I most like about them is they are always very different each time you see them, obviously feeding off the setting and crowd. This time, they were messy. Chaotically so, with equipment malfunctions, programming issues and more rambling between songs than usual as things were straightened out. But, they aired some of their new material, so they are excused. Admittedly some onlookers didn’t get it, but, as seems to be tradition every time I see them, they won plenty of new hearts and minds. And the new material is smoking too, they do not seem able to put a foot wrong.
The third act of the night upped the ante somewhat. Our newcomers of the year 2014, Boss Cloth (pictured) were pretty fired up for the show, wanting to prove our point. Which they did. A lot. Ear bleedingly loud, if you shut your eyes it sounds like a 5 piece band is before you. But these guys just need the two of them to have this effect. Sounding like Queens Of The Stone Age on PCP, the songs are tight, outrageously melodic but rock harder than a horse nailed to two pieces of curved wood. The new songs that were trotted out don’t mess with the formula, merely keep pushing it further, seeing where the illogical conclusion lies. These is a band who seem to be hitting things at exactly the right moment, and as their songwriting develops and if they can get the right shows, I have a sneaky suspicion a lot more people will soon be fellow paid up followers of the cloth.
Headliner Chip Daddy is the budget, West Country version of Goldie Lookin’ Chain. Except he is funnier. Anyone feeling slightly low really needs to check out some of his YouTube clips, especially the go-carting one. I challenge anyone to watch it and not end up needing a Tena pad. His songs are also stupidly funny, full of witty parodies and hilarious lyrics, although perhaps not suitable for your granny. And boy does he put on a show. We were treated to the caterpillar by a fat bloke, human bicycles, yo-yo tricks and plastic guns. Seriously, who needs Madonna style production budgets? This was amazing. We even had an impromptu breakdance showdown in the middle of the crowd. Genius level buffoonery and everyone loved it.
From there the evening descended into the traditional drink fuelled orgy of self-congratulation, high jinks and laughs that us Oceloteers have come to expect and love. And once again, it was proved that local music really is something that this region deserves to be proud of. Now, if we can just persuade all those big-wigs and execs in their ivory towers to look beyond the ends of their noses every once in a while I think our musicians could go on to rule the world. If they want to.
First Published in the July 2014 issue of The Ocelot Magazine