Live Review: Amber Arcades, Indian Queens + Swimming Pools at Oslo, Hackney

I know you shouldn’t judge a band by appearances, but when that appearance is like every bad seventies cliché, and involves a porn star moustache, gyrating hips and outrageous hair, it’s pretty hard to focus on the music. Which is a shame, because opener Swimming Pools don’t make bad music. They just look creepy performing it.

Next up was Indian Queens, a three piece on Bella Union, whose debut single ‘Us Against The World’s angsty atmospheric blend of spiralling guitars and concrete drum beats takes influence from Warpaint and the like, but without the same passionate stage presence. A few members of the crowd were donned in glitter, just like singer Jennifer, suggesting a fan presence tonight.

Headliners Amber Arcades have been garnering something of a buzz recently. The shimmering indie pop of Dutch-born musician Annelotte de Graaf and her band flicks between cutting guitars and fuzzed out melodies as they play a short set of tracks from their debut album Fading Lines. Despite being the ‘blondest, palest person I have ever seen’ as my friend says, she has personality enough to shine off the stage, and the tunes to back it up. Unassuming but with impact, they rock through songs such as album opener ‘Come With Me’, the poppy ‘Right Now’, and ‘I Will Follow’, which recalls Sam Cooke’s ‘Stand By Me’. A huge Nick Drake fan, de Graff released a cover of ‘Which Will’ last year, as an experiment in examining ‘how these mysterious melodies would function in a more upbeat musical environment.’ The result is a kind of obscure liveliness, a luminescent pounding – much like Amber Arcades themselves.  Danceable and dreamy, they stand out in the dream pop world – for all the right reasons.

Review by Francesca Baker
Photograph from amberarcades.net

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