Low Island – The Cellar – 27th January 2018
Some local bands appear to be circumnavigating the evolutionary development process we have in place here in Oxford. We all know it goes: poorly attended open mic night in Botley; first on with a Dire Straights tribute act; the drummer leaves to study Graphic Design at Aberystwyth; headline show at The Jericho playing to the few loyal mates who didn’t have anything better to do; a few more underwhelming support slots; a few more lukewarm reviews from Nightshift and then, through perseverance as much as talent, the muted acclaim you’ve always dreamed of.
However, bands such as Glass Animals and more recently Low Island, have done the unforgivable in achieving plaudits and praise without sweating it out on a wet Tuesday night down The Cellar to disinterested bar staff and a lethargic sound engineer.
Back to right the wrongs of their apparent disregard for the ‘Oxford way’, Low Island play a show which must truly be remembered as an “I was there” show. It’s a pretty impressive line up in general, and each band could happily merit their own 400 words of positive endorsement, such is the diverse but masterful performances of Juniper Nights, Magique and Be Good.
And so to Low Island, a band that may have slipped under many peoples radar but are the absolute pinnacle of Oxford music right now. Having the shape shifting ability to move through soulful and dextrous indie rock, into ambient, low fi electronica and out the other end with subtle but enthralling hooks, Low Island not only create unforgettable music but a show that has a narrative which contorts, meanders and challenges its audience to join them on their journey.
The delicate and ghostly vocal lines sit in amongst complex and dissident ideology, creating a otherworldly and nuanced soundscape which drifts through The Cellar like an apparition. Such is the sedative but engaging tone that Low Island set, the night quickly becomes a sumptuous show of a band whose ethos is to provoke but in a most musically rich and lavish manner.
As hushed but animated punters file out at the end of a hauntingly memorable show, there is indeed that unmistakable feeling of having been witness to something which promises to grow and mutate into one of our most beloved acts. Any music lover not already on the Low Island bandwagon should probably jump on asap as these boys surely have a most accomplished and exciting career ahead.