Earlier in the week tonight’s headliners Vondelpark released their debut album, Seabed and tonight’s performance was a celebration of that fact, evidenced by the free stickers given out at the merch stand, the large display of the album’s cover projected on the back of the stage, and how important the event clearly was to the group. Being the only real band on their label R&S (who are typically known for dance music), they perhaps felt like they had something to prove in their live show, and their determination to do so made the night a success.
Another act looking to make an impression on the evening was the opener, fellow Londoner East India Youth. A solo project of William Doyle, he came to the stage and armed himself with a bass guitar and planted himself in front of a table full of music making implements. His performance was just as intriguing as his setup hinted, with Doyle never fully stopping between songs, rather moving through different moments. The songs ranged from straightforward indie with electronic inflections, through ambient sound passages and ended up with a full on dance beat that had at least small sections of the crowd bouncing along. It’s difficult to pigeonhole East India Youth, and that’s quite something for an artist still very early into his journey.
This being Vondelpark’s first gig in London for a long time they wanted to get the atmosphere in Bush Hall to levels of excitement that equaled their own, and handily dispatched lead single and Seabed’s most catchy and upbeat tune “California Analogue Dream” as their opener, which started to pick up the momentum from where East India Youth left off. The band alternated between the more serene songs and picking up the pace when they needed to by delving back into their older EPs’ material or using a reworked version of “Bananas (On My Biceps)” with a more kicking beat to get the crowd dancing.
The sounds of Seabed are very precise and well produced, so bringing them to life in a live setting is a tricky business that Vondelpark are managing by augmenting to a foursome in their live show and doing a lot of instrument swapping or simultaneous playing. The full force of songs like “Closer” and “Quest” may not have been present, but the band still managed to bring the spirit and feel of the songs to the audience not only through their playing but largely through Lewis Rainsbury’s impassioned vocal delivery.
Vondelpark are a young band that has shown a terrific amount of progress in their sound on record. Their live sound is already good and if they can take the same steps in fleshing it out as they have done on record then it won’t be long before they’re consistently selling out dates on their own headline tours.