Here we've got the Borderline, a subterranean venue on one of the warmest summer days London's seen this year. And on this hot and sticky June evening, the threat of dehydration-induced fainting must be met with the right music to suit the mood. Enter 6 Day Riot, a group who, despite all their quirks, tribal headgear and flower-laden microphone stands, are firmly rooted in the indie-pop tradition.
To set them apart from their more popular contemporaries (like Mumford & Sons, who are also big fans of making pop tunes out of traditional folk instruments) this quintet are quite convincing in what they do. They don't come across as eager to impress nor do they seem to care whether anyone likes them or not. That said, as the night progresses, their stage presence and sheer enthusiasm wins over more and more people.
Throughout their hour-long set, 6 Day Riot come off like they're playing for their own enjoyment. All five band members - plus an additional trumpet player for their hometown show - dance and sway and jump relentlessly. Every minute or so a broad smile appears on singer Tamara Schlesinger's face and bassist Edd Harwood does a couple of gigantic jumps without worrying about what might happen if his head were to collide with the Borderline's low ceiling. Their stage banter is equally light-hearted, and they get the audience involved in singing backup vocals.
Most importantly though, their songs are catchy, and filled with strong hooks and melodies. The simple backing vocals of YaDaDa's Brother - whilst impossible to not hum along to - make sure that it doesn't fall into the trap of being a lazy Gogol Bordello rip-off. Every Third Sunday (or, as the youth might say, "that song from Skins") is delightfully jaunty whilst Take Me is one of a few songs from recent LP On This Island that showcase a bit more adventure and drama. Even a cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic, Tusk, which allows Tamara the occasional freedom to be an out-and-out front woman as opposed to multitasking singing and ukulele/guitar playing, goes down extremely well and doesn't feel too out of place compared to the rest of their material.
A one-song encore of The Last Stand - complete with triumphant-sounding mariachi trumpets that sound straight out of an Ennio Morricone film score - ends the set on a charming high note. It would be interesting to see how well 6 Day Riot's music fares in the middle of winter (and, perhaps in a venue that isn't as much of a squeeze as the Borderline) and whether the same kind of magic can be replicated, or even bettered upon. But that takes nothing away from a splendid show in ridiculously warm circumstances.