Sundara Karma Live: A Cathartic Experience

It is fairly impossible for me to put into words just exactly what I experienced last night, but I’m going to try. Over the past few months, one band has come to mean more to me than I can say. That band is Sundara Karma. There has never been another band that I connected to on such an emotional level. When I can’t find the words, Sundara Karma find them for me. And last night, I finally got to see them perform.

The British rockers played to a packed room at Songbyrd Café in Washington, DC. The stage was lit by a backdrop of string lights, giving the appearance of a starry night. When Sundara Karma took the stage, I was overcome with a sense of elation. I was finally hearing the songs I love so dearly being performed live. Oscar’s unique voice rang throughout the room as he belted out the lyrics to the opening song, “A Young Understanding.” It was hard to see little other than the members’ silhouettes moving in the darkness, but I didn’t care. To be quite honest, I kept my eyes closed for the majority of the set, just letting the music wash over me and getting lost in the sensation of it. The crowd cheered loudly when Oscar led the band into “Flame,” fans singing along to the familiar tune. The highlight of the set for me was the performance of “Happy Family,” my favorite song. Tears came to my eyes as Oscar delivered the poignant lyrics with incredible emotion. The band closed their set with “Loveblood,” a tale of starcrossed lovers. 

As the band played their final note, I knew that this had been the best show I had ever witnessed. For me, it was nothing short of cathartic. Even though their set only consisted of eight songs, it left me on cloud nine, all of the stresses of the day gone. Oscar Lulu has the ability to pack more meaning into a three-minute song than other artists could ever dream of putting into an entire album, making Sundara Karma’s music my greatest comfort in life. Seeing them live only amplified that. If you ever have the chance to see them, just do it. You will not regret it.

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Gig Review: Dan Owen

Featured Image: Twitter

Upon walking through the doors at the Oporto and seeing the name ARC at the top of the set times list I was sure that I recognised the name from somewhere….had I seen her before?

Turns out that I was right. ARC‘s distinctive nasal vocals make her sets very memorable and I was loving “The Promise.”

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when asked to tell a joke you will forget every joke that you have ever heard. Now that I’m writing this however I can actually think of quite a few jokes that I could have told when ARC asked me to tell a joke whilst she tuned her guitar. Alas it was not to be.

“I’m in Love” with Scott Quinn and his beautiful, smooth voice. It’s difficult to pinpoint my favourite song from his set as I was head over heels with them all. From the unreleased “Run” whose deeply emotional lyrics pull at your heart-strings, to the new single “Lovers From Afar” which is set to be released in early May.

It’s my third time seeing Dan Owen perform after seeing him open for Rae Morris last year and I was a total goner. From the moment I first heard “Fall Like A Feather” I knew that I’d be going to see this guy again and again….well here I am I guess.

So the last time I saw Dan Owen at the games room at the Brudnell Social Club it was a very intimate and sweet gig with everyone sitting on the floor. Tonight, however was quite the opposite as the venue at the Oporto was really rather busy actually.

If indie-folk is your thing (and it’s definitely mine) then I would highly recommend that you check out Dan Owen. His deep, gravelly voice accompanied only by a guitar, stomp box and occasional appearance of a harmonica give Dan a rich, mature sound that is all-encompassing.

The raw and emotional “Made To Love You” which was written about a friend’s dysfunctional, abusive relationship was a highlight of the evening for me, highlighting that some of the best songs written come from hurtful experiences and true pain.

The highly anticipated “Little Red Rooster” closed the set with plenty of folky goodness and Dan Owen- the one man band.

Gig Review: Joe Dolman

Featured Image via Joe Dolman

From singing Ed Sheeran covers on YouTube to taking on his own material, Joe Dolman is doing what he loves to do and that is very evident from his music.

Joe is in his final year at uni and is currently balancing his time between this UK tour which ends tonight in Sheffield and writing his dissertation at service stations.

I heard about Joe Dolman through Mandy who was sadly unable to make it to Joe’s London date. Luckily for me, however, his penultimate gig was in Leeds….shot gun there!

The gig which was due to take place at the Milo wine bar changed venue at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances to the Fox and Newt. Fortunately as I was running early anyway I managed to hop on over to the other side of town with plenty of time to spare.

Lauren Rycroft was the first act of the evening and her gorgeously angelic vocals mixed beautifully with melancholy poetic lyrics.

Tiger Twins brought a rock element to the evening with an enthusiastic and hilarious set. Indeed their tale about being told that they were playing a gig at Milo that night was one of the comedic highlights of the evening.

Joe Dolman’s acoustic set included favourites such as “Learning To Fly” and “Addicted To You” as well as new song “Nervous” and I loved his ‘crisp’ vocals, gentle instrumental hooks and beautiful lyrics.

The low-point of the evening was actually the highlight as Joe experienced some technical problems with the speakers and the sound guys were called on to fix things. Cue the impromptu mashup-covers of Smash Mouth and Busted as well as story time from Tiger Twins.

Show Review: Bad Suns at the Underground

This past Sunday, Bad Suns returned to Charlotte, NC to grace the stage of one of Charlotte’s newest venues, the Underground. After waiting several hours in the cold, everyone was extremely relieved to be let into the venue. As the show was sold out, the venue was packed wall to wall with fans young and old.

From Indian Lakes opened the show, getting the crowd warmed up for the main event. Their set was followed by what can only be described as trance-like music, making Bad Suns’ entrance that much more explosive.

It’s been a pleasure to see Bad Suns continue to top themselves, constantly improving their live show. This one was easily the best performance I’ve seen from them. They opened with the title track from their latest album, “Disappear Here,” and Christo’s vocals were barely audible over the screams of the crowd. 

Bad Suns certainly know how to entertain a crowd, whether playing older fan favorites such as “Cardiac Arrest” and “We Move Like The Ocean” or newer tracks like “Daft Pretty Boys” and “Patience.” Every song was met with enthusiasm. Christo came into the crowd during “Sleep Paralysis,” leaving me clinging to the barricade as screaming girls tried to make their way to him. He stood on the barricade right beside me during “Rearview,” stepping on my elbow a few times and leaving me with some pretty brusies (not that I’m complaining). 

They closed the night with what is arguably their best live song, and one of my personal favorites, “Salt.” Christo reached out to the crowd one final time before making his retreat. Miles threw his drumsticks out and I was lucky enough to catch one of them. They left a crowd full of satisfied fans, just like they always do.

As I stood in the merch queue, I began to really think about their shows. From the beginning, these boys have been something special to me. For me, their shows have never been about their looks or trying to touch Christo or any of the superficial things that draw some people to their shows. It’s always been about the music. I’ll be quite honest and say that I keep my eyes closed during the majority of their shows. I just want to shut the world out and get lost in the music, and their shows are one of the few things that give me that escape. I leave their shows totally stress-free, something I can rarely ever say. For that, I will always be grateful to them. If you’ve never seen Bad Suns live before, it’s something you just have to experience for yourself. I’ll be anxiously waiting for the next time I am lucky enough to see Bad Suns again. 

Check out some of my favorite photos l took of their set Sunday night below.

Natalie Holmes: Gig Review

Featured image: Facebook

I first came across Natalie Holmes in 2012 when she was playing the support for Gabrielle Aplin in Leeds and I instantly fell in love with her angelic voice and really cute, catchy songs.

Fast forward five years and you will find me sitting in the community centre of Natalie’s hometown of Keynsham eagerly waiting to hear songs from the newest EP (her fourth) as well as the first show that was to be played with the new band.

The small, intimate gig – which was made all the more special by being in the singer’s hometown- was put on as part of Bath Festivals, a new festival that showcases the arts in and around the city of Bath.

The room was awash with family and friends…and me….her brother had even come back home from university in Plymouth for the evening. Indeed the mayor of the town was the one to welcome Natalie to the stage. How’s that for a holmey…I mean homely gig.

The set included old favourites including ‘Don’t Know Me’ and ‘Child’ as well as #musicmonday pick ‘Hydrogen’ and whilst I have normally only ever heard these songs played solo I loved the sense of depth brought about with the addition of the band.

In amongst these treasured faves Natalie Holmes shared tracks from the new EP including the stunning ‘Immune To It’ and ‘Have You Seen My Mind.’

The new EP will be released in just over a months time and I can’t wait to own a copy!

Hippo Campus and Marsicans Gig Review

Photo Credits: http://www.youtube.com and http://www.marsicans.co.uk

For transatlantic indie rock with a pinch of dirty pop then you should have headed down to the Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen in Leeds last night (31st January) for local Leeds lads; Marsicans and exports from Minnesota; Hippo Campus

The ‘boyish’ sounds of Hippo Campus  are bright, happy and toe-tappingly good that will have you singing along for days. It was the four piece indie band’s first headline show in Leeds but you would have been excused at not knowing this as the room was fit to bursting.

A highlight for me was one the band’s more widely known tracks ‘Suicide Saturday’ and ‘Way It Goes’

Sometimes you will go to a gig and the headline act is eclipsed by their support act and in this particular instance I can say that is exactly what happened.

The Marsicans were killing it last night with their hilarious stage presence, unbridled energy and awesome talent.

Personal faves of their set included the Michael Jackson  ‘Man In The Mirror’  segment before ‘Swimming’ and new single ‘Friends.’