Turn left at the massive kiwi bird (at least I think that’s what it is), follow the silver wig/fan arrangement, and if you stand under the upside-down Colgate striplight wedding cake, GULF should be playing in front of you. They seem to have started with a cover of Get Lucky, but they haven’t, it’s just an unexpected bit of funk guitar that fits comfortably in their slightly proggy sound: that of a prog band doing four-minute pop numbers, which this five-piece do pretty well.
A decent audience has gathered by third number Out There, but even if they’re OUTFIT fans bagsying a spec for later, they’re not likely to be disappointed. It’s suddenly clear why Gulf are supporting: a complex guitar/synth wash swirling around vulnerable, virile vocals might bag them a few new devotees tonight.
Next up are VEYU, whose Thom Yorke-esque vocals, gracing songs with a strong whiff of the Cure’s Pornography-Disintegration-Bloodflowers trilogy (read as: long introductions, lyrics often don’t arrive until well into the third minute), work well on this bill. They’re carrying extra timber after their Sound City appearance, and it lends them a greater onstage authority. Indeed, Running has bass so tremendous people could be seen pulling their socks back up more than once. Also worth mentioning is The Everlasting, a steadier number on an epic scale, showing that VEYU know exactly how long to keep their nervous energy pent up and when to release it.
To skip to the end briefly, this is a perfect set from Outfit. Seven tracks of new LP Slowness’ twelve get played – this is the launch, after all – and an early trio, Framed, Smart Thing, and the title track, confirm its strength, sounding as if the Berkonians have been playing them forever. The first is in a different league of song, melodically unpredictable but sounding entirely familiar, and single Genderless is simply, fiercely sexy. That said, there’s some adolescent enjoyment in thrashing guitar strings when the venerable Spraypaint gets resurrected.
It’s a particularly big audience tonight, with a few familiars in attendance. Stealing Sheep, Dutch Uncles, Loved Ones, Natalie McCool and someone I’d have expected to be preoccupied with strategising a way to keep Greece in the Eurozone, but no: that’s deffo Angela Merkel nodding along to Two Islands. That song, once a cavernous valediction to the stage, tonight is tighter and more intense and distracts everyone from the approaching curfew. It’s already five to eleven, and the show closes as Slowness does, with Swam Out. From the balcony, it’s noticeable that the audience’s attentions have shifted. Staring ahead in blue-lit admiration until now, people are turning to face their neighbour, grinning.
For a band who clearly work so hard arranging and rehearsing, Outfit don’t make it seem like work. They look and sound like they’re playing for their mates; from an opening paean to the Kaz, to the note-perfect performances inspiring an effervescent audience, it’s clear Outfit feel the same way. The Kazimier’s last year is also proving to be one of its strongest and tonight’s set ought to become part of that posthumous legend.