By Lucy Harte
When someone mentions Dusk, the venue is more commonly associated with bar crawls and its ambiguously described pop-culture inspired cocktails rather than with an arts space. It proved to be an excellent setting, however, for Odd Horizon’s second event of the year.
An eclectic trio of acts were hosted in the upstairs area of the café bar. With the furniture removed, the space opened up well. A makeshift ‘stage area’ was comprised with a backdrop made up of fairy lights and red fabric, and the only boundary separating the artists from the audience was a rope of light snaked around the equipment, creating an intimate setting for the crowd. The night took us through atmospheric noise from Antiphonal, to the energetic trap hop of Lab Partners, ending finally with a catchy, vibrant set from headline act Exit Earth.
Antiphonal began the night with a completely improvised 45-minute set. From the downstairs bar the music seemed to pump like a heartbeat, and moving up to the stage brought us into the experimental world of the York-based artist. Surrounded by tables covered in equipment that looked as if they belonged in a sci-fi film rather than Dusk on a Friday night, Antiphonal seemed to be entirely in his element. Wielding an electric guitar, he would play a riff, loop it, and proceed to experiment with the equipment strewn before him. The outcome was an otherworldly sound with thumping percussion, and the audience had no semblance of what was going to happen next. At one point, he picked up a bow and moved it across the strings of the guitar, piquing the interest of the photographer who jumped up to capture the moment. The improvised set gave us real-time insight to the creative process at work, and was a fascinating introduction to the night.
The outcome was an otherworldly sound with thumping percussion, and the audience had no semblance of what was going to happen next.
To bring us back down to earth was trap hop duo Lab Partners. A complete contrast to Antiphonal’s extravagant set-up, the pair had just a Macbook and a microphone visible to the audience. Starting strong with King’s Landing, the juxtaposition of vocalist David Jumbo’s animated performance with producer Rabin Yello’s sheer concentration displayed from the beginning the passion the two have for their music. Next was 5am, a more ethereal track which features references to the Heslington East of the University of York. Here, Lab Partners began to demonstrate the personal quality of their music to the student-dominated audience, who would have been familiar with the location. Jumbo preluded the next song, saying it’s about “some serious issues, drugs and alcohol”. The duo then jumped into their new single Intoxicated with vigour, a track in which he laments being constantly high but is also simultaneously ambivalent. This was followed by a dynamic remix of Majid Jordan’s My Love, which combined aggressive rap with interludes of song for the chorus. Another personal song, Got Me Feeling, followed, which showcased more dreamy beats complemented by self-reflective vocals. Same Shit and Higher Heights finished their set with more of the same enthusiasm reflected in the duo’s performance. The only complaint was that Jumbo’s talent was slightly undermined by a quiet microphone for the majority of their set, which meant it was a struggle to hear the deeply personal lyrics that feature in many of their songs. Otherwise a solid act, Lab Partner’s zeal was exhilarating to watch.
Launching us out-of-this-world again was the appropriately named Exit Earth. The four-piece band from Leeds have been difficult to define, with reviewers and promoters alike referring to them as a variety of genres, from alternative rock to noise pop. The majority of their set was from their new album Calm Waters, featuring the occasional older or unreleased single. Opening with Super C, a number with hazy guitar sounds that still manages to sound upbeat, they quickly progressed into an unreleased song, Press Ups. Their instruments sounded vibrant and clear in the small venue, filling the room with energy. Even the downcast Last Out had a certain vitality to it. They followed with Back Up Plan, a more upbeat track than its predecessor, yet with the same despondent vibe to its lyrics. Another shorter unreleased title, Camp Snow, was teased, succeeded by one of their older singles, Collarbone. Exit Earth then closed the night with another track from Calm Waters, Sabrina. This managed to get the majority of the crowd, who had seemed hesitant thus far, dancing and swaying along to the final song of the night. Despite a couple of false starts during their performance, which were taken with good humour, Exit Earth pulled off a brilliant closing act. Their debut gig in York was lively and got the crowd moving, and their members seemed to work well together.
This managed to get the majority of the crowd, who had seemed hesitant thus far, dancing and swaying along to the final song of the night.
Although the three acts were of contrastingly different styles and genres, they all put on a great performance and were outstanding examples of local musical talent. It will be exciting to see what Daniel Johnson and company at Odd Horizon has in store for us next month.
All photos provided by Odd Horizon.