Perhaps the hardest thing about being billed as ‘ones to watch’ is the pressure which comes at the moment people actually start watching you. Hyped in the music press for almost a year must surely bring its own pressure, as well as fortune, to West London four-piece ‘Bloxx’ as they now have the unfortunate requirement to live up to people’s expectations and comparisons to artists such as Wolf-Alice and Sundara Karma. No pressure there then.
Music hype aside, Bloxx have had a considerable twelve months; featured on last year’s Leeds/Reading festival bill and huge praise for last years’ ‘Monday’ single they’re a band quiet rightfully seen as being ‘on the up’; something which is clearly demonstrated in tonight’s performance and their level of confidence.
Only five months on from playing Newcastle’s Think Tank Underground tonight they play the Northumbria Institute, an indication of their momentum and ambition, as well as another challenge for them to achieve. Luckily, they take to this as naturals.
Entering the stage with huge smiles, and playful in band interactions, Bloxx blaze out of the traps full of confidence. By fourth track, ‘Novocain’ the band are already in full force complete with body moving funky bass lines and strong dance grooves; it’s an opportunity lead guitarist Taz thrives on as he kicks his Fender Jaguar into full volume, pulls off his finest Johnny Thunders stage moves, and blitzes his fret board like it’s the last song he’ll ever play. Funky, and futuristic, there’s something of a young Johnny Marr in this lads’ playing style and desire to find the finest guitar moments. It’s a wonder to watch.
Set across an evening of 12 songs, including surprise entrant ‘Strangers on a street’, Bloxx perform full of confidence and swagger. Standout ‘Answer Machine Blues’, a track full of high ‘ooh ooh’ pop melodies and terrific bass parts is introduced as a song from next year’s debut album, showing serious excitement about where Bloxx are heading and their ambition of blending dreamy guitar parts with deep funk and disco grooves; if this is a statement of intent then it’s certainly an interesting one.
Other moments of interest arrive with ‘Lay down’ which is taken from last year’s EP release, as well as ‘Monday’ and ‘Your boyfriend’ both of which are driven by fierce guitar/grunge moments interspersed with pop sensibilities and empowering messages about being strong and standing up for yourself. As tonight proves, this is a fierce band; but their songs remain even fiercer.
A note to support act ‘Apre’ who’s funky grooves and Duran Duran 80’s pop feel offered a huge insight into a future with genuine potential. An interesting, original, act the only advice might be to leave some of the Chris Martin stage moves at home. If there’s one band to avoid when looking for originality, it’s that lot…