Live Music + Gig Reviews

Allo Darlin’ @ XOYO, London

13 July 2011


The guest list for tonight’s show reads like a whose who of the London indiepop scene, with members of The Wave Pictures and Shrag spotted loitering around, not to mention those in the headliners’ other bands.

Even without the Z-list audience members, tonight’s line-up is a pretty stellar representation of a scene that’s still gathering speed and showing no sign of faltering. One of its younger ambassadors, Tigercats, pull out one of their best performances to date. The venue’s crisp sound suited them, and it felt like they’d grown into their sound; a spiky, jangly cocktail of Orange Juice, Hefner and Violent Femmes. They’ve still to release an album, but the now familiar delights of Easter Island, Nude With Dogs, Konnie Huck, Whitechapel Boys and Banned At The Troxy still sound fresh, new and utterly infectious.

The same can’t quite be said for The School, who return after a quiet six months or so. Opening with old favourite Can’t Understand, much of the rest of the set is comprised of new material that never quite reaches its potential. The vital ingredients are there: an open obsession with the 1960s, and enough violins, flutes and trumpets to make Belle and Sebastian go weak at the knees, but they don’t have the songs or the sense of fun to back it up.

It’s been a busy year for Allo Darlin’; in the 13 months since the release of their debut album their tour schedule’s been relentless…and any time off was taken up by other ventures (most notably Elizabeth with Tender Trap and Bill with Moustache of Insanity). So tonight’s set is quite incredible because, in the middle of touring America and Europe, they’ve managed to write some new songs. In fact tonight’s set is pretty much 50/50 old and new.

The new tracks are noticeably inspired by life on the road, with references to the continent, staying young, and the emotional highs and lows of being away from home. On the whole, it’s more of the same twee-pop they’ve made their own, but there’s something else new too, in the shape of new guitarist Greg. The extra guitar makes the band less reliant on Elizabeth’s ukulele, giving them a deeper and, dare I say it, heavier sound. They shy away from the uke-heavy album favourites like Heartbeat Chilli, but in the face of all the newness, the golden ‘oldies’ are lapped up. Polaroid Song, Kiss Your Lips and Silver Dollar sound like old friends, while a very careful, twee mosh pit even erupts during My Heart Is A Drummer.

“When’s your new album out?” an audience member shouts, to a giggled response of “We don’t know.” Whenever it comes, judging by tonight’s preview it’s going to sit comfortably alongside their debut and spawn plenty of songs for the po-goers in the front row to get stuck into.


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