Live // SUNDARA KARMA, O2 Academy Brixton, London
The Reading quartet Sundara Karma play their biggest show to date at O2 Brixton.
Over the past year Sundara Karma have established themselves as one of Britain’s most tangible indie bands. Taking to stage for their biggest show yet, the Reading outfit once again prove their place up the ranks as live performers, as well as figureheads for a new generation of eloquent indie music.
With Willie J Healey and The Magic Gang set to warm up the crowd, one cannot deny that Sundara Karma have everything in place for a massive show. As the quartet finally enters O2 Brixton’s eminent stage, it’s to the sound of thousands of screaming fans. Seemingly untouched by the madness, frontman Oscar Pollock lets his swooning vocals take the lead into Another Word For Beautiful.
The stoic tune is quickly followed by massive banger, Young Understanding and the hammering guitars and palpable drum-roll have the hordes of fans go nuts. As Pollock delves into the chorus “Let go. There is nothing more to hide. Seeing life through closed eyes – It’s just young understanding”, the lyrical intelligence plays as much a part as the glittering soundscape.
Despite their enormous stage presence and confident character, Sundara Karma are relatively fresh as a band, with their debut, Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect, coming out last January. Still, the group finds balance in the set including old classics like Run Away alongside post-debut cuts such as Lakhey.
The philosophical anecdote of Flame bounces back in the context of the grand venue. In the euphoric moment as verse changes to chorus and the full power of the tune is released, the encompassing melody integrates with Pollock’s powering vocals in the most completing way.
“Thank you”, a stunned Pollock shouts before surveying whether people had seen the band in action before. Result proven, Sundara Karma have some dedicated fans, and the once tiny indie cult seems to have transformed into a much grander following. “Thank you for coming back to us,” Pollock smiles. And rightfully so, as Olympia’s juvenile dreams and hopes of solitude manifest in frantic rhythm, lingering bridges and dancing.
Throughout the set, the connection between Haydn Evan’s striking drum-work and fluid bass-lines of Dom Cordell is astonishing. Enhancing the feverish guitar-melodies, the co-existence proves crucial in balancing the vivid soundscape of Sundara Karma.
Following the sawing Lose This Feeling, Pollock takes a moment. “Are everyone having a good time? This is crazy”. “This next one, if you know it, please sing along, if not- maybe just dance”, he asks, as the group delves into eternal anthem of reckless young love, Vivienne. It’s a true moment of blissful adoration as the song echoes from the crowd, and Pollock throws himself into the masses to really take part in this ecstasy, well punctuated by the delirious guitar riffs of Ally Baty.
The anthemic parade continues graciously as Pollock declares: “we’re gonna go off for a bit, then we’re going come back on.” Sticking to a promise, the band are soon back with Happy Family. The choir effort and mounting proportions of the song alongside the melancholy of the lyrics makes for a perfect moment of touching sentiment, honest enough to tug your heartstrings.
Rounding off fantastic frenzy with newer Explore, Sundara Karma stand as a beacon of youthful celebration in all its oddness. The sonics of their soundscape is an invite for weirdness and acceptance. The honest lyrics and bombastic melodies give importance to even the smallest of thoughts. Sundara Karma are a band that fills a need and whilst their youth might linger with a sense of nostalgia, there is no doubt that these guys still have great things ahead.
Photos: Aurora Henni Krogh