Like the result of an applied mathematical formula, when summer arrives, London undergoes a radical transformation and becomes that cheeky friend who can’t take a “no” for an answer when asked to join the party. It’s taken a while, yet the sun finally chose to show its brightest and warmest side, right on a late June weekend. Here it the big smoke, then, buzzing outside pubs and with thousands of souls looking for the best spot to grab a drink and a slice of that well-deserved weekend feeling.
I thought I’d celebrate in style too, going back to some live music after a little while and in one of the East London venues I love the most. Here I am at Hackney Road’s Sebright Arms, an iconic basement where I have had the pleasure to see the best of the indie scene so far. Capetown’s own Josh Wantie is on the menu on his first headline date ever, and the stage at Sebright seems the ideal setting for a debut in front of his crowd.
The evening kicks off with an appetizer that will result in the best thing of the entire set. It’s served at the exact moment JOYYA take the stage. The two-piece comprises of Newcastle’s producer/vocalist Ben Dancer and drummer David Pullen and their dreamy synth-pop is an energetic concentrate of catchy melodies and intimate vocals. Something clearly inspired by that atmospheric electronic we still try and revive from the ’80s. The bunch of singles under the belt of JOYYA make it to a solid set that includes the freshly released ‘Gold’ (must-listen) and a number, ‘Red Tune’, that features The 1975’s sax of John Waugh. Something to say “wow!” about.
Just around 21:30 and after London’s collective Blank Fiction, it’s finally time for headliner Josh Wantie to take the scene. The artist is visibly excited, picks on his bass and unfolds his banger ‘Go Under’ (from 2016’s EP ‘Paper Crown’) as well as the latest ‘New Horizons’ as the most remarkable moments of his setlist.
With powerful vocals and a soundscape in between catchy electro-pop and deep house, the Capetonian shows a great deal of stage presence and seems constantly about to switch from a live set to what relates more to a club night. He delights the crowd of Sebright Arms, which – towards the end – looks more like a sweaty pit full of Londoners just living the weekend at their best.