If “advert band” were a genre, it’s safe to say that Eliza and the Bear would class as one, after their huge single Friends was used as the soundtrack for what seems like the majority of commercials this year. It’s not been the only in-at-the-deep-end method they’ve used to make themselves known though, with a UK tour with Paramore and Charlie XCX last year contributing massively to their following. Back then we tipped them to a success, and now boasting a headline tour with support from Oxford four-piece Pixel Fix, it would appear we weren’t wrong to do so.
It’s a safe way to open the set with an infectious song everyone has heard of, so their choice to strut on stage to the electronic backing opening of Friends was a good move, despite the computerised effects deducting from the live edge to the show. After the contagious refrains of their signature track had faded out, the set truly came into its own and the party began. An electronic slant commenced Upon The North, and once a rather distracting technical issue had been smoothed over, this ballad-esque opening became a representative sample of their live work; sparky, a little withheld to start but with an impressive crescendo, and fun. Pivotal line, “I spent summers away”, kept up the catchy hooks in their work, and brought up the astonishing clarity of the vocal work in the set.
Cheers seemed to echo every movement on stage, and after a grateful line or two from the band’s frontman, Hope You Know raised the bar and the roof; clean, energetic, vibrant – aside from an only-just sidestepped incident with a misbalanced lead singer on a speaker. As the set took a turn towards the Coldplay meets The 1975 meets ska, Southern Wild disturbed a straight-forward equilibrium of “sing and dance” tracks. This added abstract character took the quintet way beyond their gang-vocals beginnings, whilst retaining the feel-good concept of every song being a single.
A good setlist and the right instruments are obviously both vital to an excellent show, but there’s a point where a compromise needs to be made, and although the changes between almost every song were relatively clean, the disturbances were still noticeable. At certain moments a huge kerfuffle is forgivable, and for the token acoustic track, Cruel, the stage clearance was worth it. The choice to include the track felt rather deliberate and out of place so close to the close, and combined with the stereotypical forced endearment of a room full of lighters and phone lights this meant their was an almost tangible loss in attention to the band – a quickly regained loss mind, when the band re-adopted the full show. The impact of Cruel reinforced what everyone probably knew, and the band’s control and comfort came back with a closing pair of tracks, Light It Up and Cold.
With the refrains came confidence, and a spectacular finale ended the night on a fantastic note. A handful of tracks touched on darker lyrics, but a zesty execution only made it dark the way a firework show is. Their genre of elctro-indie-rock is an overcrowded one, but if they continue as they have done so far, they’ll be bound to be in your face for more reasons than just an advert break soon enough. Expect them to pollute the charts, and for their live show to become synonymous with the phrase “must see”.