October Drift – Bullingdon, Oxford. Published in Oxford Mail 29/3/16
Post-punk, that fabled era in the late seventies when many musicians, growing weary of distorted and politicised chaos, pushed the increasingly saturated market in the direction of fresh innovation and uncharted concepts. That ideology gave us Joy Division, Talking Heads, Gang of Four, The Cure… More recently, in the early 00’s, New Yorkers The Rapture spearheaded a short-lived resurgence and, for me personally, the album of 2015, Viet Cong’s self titled masterpiece, taught us that there doesn’t have to necessarily be a punk revival for there to be post-punk. The genre alone is accredited with such creative headway that on hearing its mention in connection with up and coming act October Drift, my presence was mandatory.
Expectations and optimism firmly in check, the band kicked off to an unrelenting wall of chaotic but controlled distorted reverb which spearheaded October Drifts performance and remained prevalent throughout their set. It was truly awe-inspiring to hear the nuanced and translucent guitar parts sitting coyly above a fuzz bomb of brutality, giving the band a juxtaposition of something very delicate but unquestionably invasive. With the vocal lines clarity cutting effortlessly through the ebb and throb of ethereal dischord and the syncopated kick drums adding a jagged, pulsating texture, the richness of sound was truly scintillating as the four piece gallivanted through their set with a “take no prisoners” attitude.
Even the more hook based compositions, which will hopefully give them the mainstream appeal they deserve, are daring and abrasive and if there was any doubt that this band could not be accredited for versatility, their stripped back track Lost immediately evoked the destitute and macabre ambience of Atmosphere by Joy Division and proved to be one of the many highlights in a magisterial hour of frenzied wonderment. As much as the studio recordings show a band full of quality with purpose and direction, they do little justice to the jaw dropping noise October Drift create live and it was genuinely a privilege to behold a band with such an abundance of creativity. The enthusiasm and energy of performance highlighted the bands love for the music they play and if they continue in this rich vein, the heights could well be dizzying.
The only downside to an otherwise invigorating evening was another poor turn out from the Oxford faithful. A ticket to see October Drift cost a measly £8, a price you would be lucky to get a couple of beers for. If more people were prepared to be active patrons by attending live music, it would go a long way to restoring this wonderful city’s former glories and once again earmarking it as the epicentre of the British music scene.