There’s no mistaking this as an important gig in the city’s gig calendar as Leaf looks every inch as sold-out as advertised this evening. There are so many people crammed into the Bold Street venue that the stage is almost an inconvenience because it takes up so much space.
Coincidentally, space is a good word to apply to the intricacies of OCEAAN’S work. The bass-heavy, soulful-but-sparse sounds of Need U and Your Side carry huge melodies that resonate somewhere between James Blake, Jai Paul and Ben Khan, while managing to be less traditionally structured than any of them. It’s the powerful percussion that separates him from his contemporaries though, which Oceaan (real name Oliver Cean) explains is due to listening to a lot of West African music. Whatever his influences, the 21-year-old is certainly heading in the right direction, and with just two EPs under his belt there seems sure to be much more to come.
A couple of days before the gig, LÅPSLEY (AKA Holly Låpsley Fletcher) tweeted that she was nervous for her home-coming show because her friends would be in the crowd shouting “penis”. This never happens, unfortunately: instead, the rising star is given the utmost respect and a room of total silence as she speaks and performs. Her set is very short, as she jokes: “I should write more songs, really”, but what we do get is almost flawless. The only hiccup is about a minute into new track Glitch where Fletcher starts to look puzzled before informing the sound engineer that “the backing track is, erm, glitching”. Smiling, she shrugs off the mishap with charm and highlights a situation that is almost poetic in its irony before starting from the top again.
Poetic is an appropriate adjective by which to assess the thirty or so minutes Låpsley spends on stage. The silence in the room is so complete that during the haunting tones of Falling Short and 8896, taken from her Understudy EP, the feel is fittingly more similar to a poetry recital than a plugged-in music show.
She chooses to end the evening with the track that got her known in the first place; Station has a warm reception but it becomes apparent that her understated sound is being replaced by something more upbeat in the new songs she airs tonight.
There is perhaps a little disappointment at how short her headline slot is, but it’s easy to forget that Låpsley is a name that has been around for little over a year and she is still only 18. There will be many, many more chances to catch this artist, who is destined for big things. The lasting impression of the evening is that music is in very capable hands with such vibrant young voices.