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Blackbird Blackbird

Live Review: Blackbird Blackbird

It was a night of chillwave, dream pop and very-nearly psychedelic sounds hosted by Stroll On Records on the 17th of May at the Lexington.  Local artists, The Himalayan Headwaters, started out the night followed by the Norwegian band, Philco Fiction, and finally rounded out by one of the most exciting electronic artists to come out of sunny San Francisco, U.S.A., Blackbird Blackbird. Best of all it had been my birthday, the best kind of day to soak up the sounds and some imported San Franciscan Beers.

The Lexington is one of those mainstays of the London music scene that always seems to host the best artists and events.  Though it is a cozy first-floor space with a small bar and modest stage that only serves to make any gig there all the more intimate and memorable.   It was the perfect spot for the equally intimate overall feel of each of the artists.

Himalayan Headwaters had the usual awkward beginning-of-the-night crowd to warm up.  The Urban Outfitters darkly-clad crowd hung back from the dance-floor like at the beginning of a high-school dance and their atmospheric and other-worldly psychedelics felt slightly out of place.  “I’m not high enough for this.” I heard a friend comment as we heard the reverberating oriental gongs and bells mix in.

Philco Fiction undeniably kicked the atmosphere up several notches.  The band, hailing from Norway, (and they definitely had the minimalist Nordic look going), had been described as playing “delicate wispy pop” but they defied that definition with intense vocals and a deeply enveloping sound.  It had the playfulness of an 80’s vibe but pulled at your heart with intense story-telling lyrics.  Mikey Maramag, of Blackbird Blackbird (the next act to go on) couldn’t stop talking about how good they were and I have to admit they are still high on my repeat playlist right now.

When Mikey took to the stage at ten it was prime time to be playing.  Philco had filled the dance-floor and now everyone was feeling just the right amount of buzz (mostly from the music, but the deliciously herb-y San Fran beer definitely helped!) Blackbird Blackbird classics like Pure and Calypso infused the room with a mood of whirling California sun and optimism.  It was half nostalgia and half in-the-moment high energy danceable music.  Locking eyes with my crowd neighbours we threw ourselves into it from first song till last.

It was undoubtedly one of the best gigs I have been to in quite a while.  Though I had gone just to see one of my all-time favourites, Blackbird Blackbird I was also taken by surprise by the other acts and completely swept off my feet by Philco Fiction.  Put both on your playlist for incredibly road-trip worthy tunes on your way to this summer’s festival rounds and keep them in your files for colder weather trips down memory lane.

Though the tour is winding down, make sure to check Blackbird Blackbird’s facebook for more dates and beg him to hop back across the pond again soon! Also look out for an EP to be released at the end of summer and whispers of some new and exciting things for his next album are out and about as well!

- April Whitlow

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