After some casual vintage shopping at ‘Reign’ and a minor splash-out on records at Truck store, I wandered to The Bullingdon- a scenic bar situated in the urban Cowley Road, Oxford. I cannot hinder the fact that being in the girl’s toilets listening to VITAMIN sound check in the room next door was a weirdly enjoyable experience. After interviewing said support act, I started talking to two lovely people in the bar, similarly anticipating the incredible band The Magic Gang, and ended up enjoying the whole night with them, as I came alone in the first place.
I have to admit, entering the stage space of the venue and declaring my name is on the guest-list made me feel a lot more important and special than I am in actuality. The venue itself was your usual small stage and floor space which, in my experience enthused the intimate vibes a lot more prolifically; a certain flair that larger venues cannot achieve. The venue itself reminded me a lot of Roundhouse’s studio space (where I had the best time seeing The Magic Gang in March) so I instantly had high hopes for the night.
After half an hour or so of chatting with strangers about our love for Alex Turner and past gig experiences, the first support act came out: 31 Hours. Despite a nervous start, I adored how charismatic the band were. You could tell on each of the five band members’ faces that they had such a passion for their music and were overwhelmed with the positive response they received from the crowd. Their sound was very electronic driven, whilst having the fundamental drums and guitar. Showing comparison to The Japanese House, I’d recommend giving 31 Hours a listen if you like chill, laid back, synth music.
The next support were VITAMIN, who I had the pleasure of interviewing before the gig. I have been a fan of their music for a while, so was very much looking forward to seeing their set. The band emerged with their clean-cut look and charismatic charm, whilst frantically scribbling over their set-lists, changing the order of it entirely. They opened with a few new tracks from their yet to be released album, and instantly got the crowd moving with their contagious electronic beats and Jared’s pristinely 80’s vocal tone. When their title track of their latest EP ‘To Believe’ came on, I instantly made my way to the centre of the room and got the crowd moving in a mosh pit to the catchy chorus.
Throughout their performance the room was electric and the vibes were great, with everyone dancing and singing, even if it was their first time hearing VITAMIN’s music. Their closing track was ‘Waterfall’, their latest single, so was the one that the crowd knew the best. Jared made his way into the crowd and danced with me during the last chorus; it was incredible moshing with him for the last beat drop of their time on stage. I was already a sweaty mess when I made my way to their merch stand and bought their record, which all four members of the band signed. Hanging out with Jared and Harrison as they mingled amongst the crowd members was great- I love how true to themselves they are, and it is clear they appreciate every one of their fans so much.
The next half an hour felt like an eternity, but when the lights dimmed and The Magic Gang humbly wandered on stage, I threw a handful of glitter onto my dewy face and prepared myself for one of my favourite bands. The thing I love most about Jack Kaye is the fact he dresses like a Grandpa but still looks gorgeous. I could see the rush in their eyes as as Paeris sat at his drum kit and Kristian, Jack and Angus picked up their instruments. The crowds were going mad, and the atmosphere was incredible.
Their opening song was a renowned crowd pleaser ‘Lady, Please’. I started off at the barrier, directly infront of Jack, and I may aswell have been doing a duet with him seeing as I was screaming both the guitar pattern and lyrics extremely loudly (and extremely off-key). Half way through the song I made my way to the middle of the densely packed room to join the mosh pit in the centre. It was at the last chorus when someone accidentally punched me right in the nose when pouncing in for the beat-drop. It hurt, a lot. After ten seconds of moving my face and trying to decide whether I was bleeding (which I was not) I muted my pain in order to maximise my enjoyment of the night. I guess that’s the price you pay for being a measly 5″2 and at risk off all injuries from limbs slanting at a slight descending angle.
The next few tracks were also crowd favourites, as I remember from The Magic Gang at Roundhouse Rising festival. ‘She Doesn’t See’ and ‘Jasmine’ got the crowd moving within seconds of their chill contagious melodies and undeniable iconic guitar riffs. There was this one guy who was definitely drunk, who was incredible at starting mosh pits. His tactic (which I will hold on to for future use) is to basically push everyone around him to the other side of the room- everyone just got on board and the vibes were insane.
To be honest, the entirety of the set was filled with people singing and loving the atmosphere; there was never a dull moment or a second when the crowd died down a bit. ‘Isn’t easy’ and ‘All This Way’ continued with the mosh pits and intensity, with sweaty bodies moving to Jack’s smooth vocals and the tight sound of the rest of the band.
I adored it when Jack took a moment to thank the crowd, because he looked so proud and elated at the response the band received at the gig. The nostalgic ‘She Won’t Ghost’ took dedicated long standing Magic Gang fans way back. ‘All that I Want Is You’ from their current EP was next, and with its simple yet infectious chorus and riveting guitar marriage, it had the room erupt. This was the point I started locking eyes with random people and sang to each other as if we meant everything to each other.
I love the slightly haunting sound the band posses, with low-fi indie riffs and melodies and sultry tuning and lyrics. In my opinion, the band are raw talent and I am dumbfounded why they aren’t famous yet. Every time I hear their music I get chills, and I class seeing them live as an utter privilege. I find they sound even more tight and edgy when live compared to their audio formats and it is riveting to translate the records I listen to almost every day into live music.
It was slightly noticeable that the next two tracks ‘Only Waiting’ and ‘Blue For You’ were less well-known amongst the audience (partially due to the drunk girl next to me shouting “I don’t even know this one”). Nevertheless, The Magic Gang’s perk of having simple, repetitive lyrics proved handy, as the boys had almost everyone shouting back the words to them. I could tell that these tracks were a clever way to prepare us for the last three songs on their set list, to which it was a guarantee everyone would know the words.
The sombre, lo-fi verse of ‘Alright’ played, followed by a room of cheers and flat singing (from the audience, not Jack!). This track is definitely one to sway to, especially at the guitar solo, when I could see so many teenagers intoxicated by the music and completely letting go, it was a beautiful sight.
‘Feeling Better’ beautifully enthuses Paeris’ rhythmic drumming talent, and the bass from Angus shines through. I adore the intro to this track; its completely identifiable and immediately prepares you for the laden passion and musical layers. It’s the little things in their music which establishes their sound and gives The Magic Gang an edge- with the subtle guitar riffs in between lyric lines or their bold and striking riffs.
‘No Fun’ is possibly The Magic Gang’s most iconic track, so you can imagine much the crowd roared as the sultry guitar intro began. The component that separates ‘No Fun’ from many of the band’s other tracks is its rock driven riffs and more risky, gravelly sound. I would say every single person in the room was shouting the words at the top of their lungs and had one hand in the air, moving to the steady beat of the track.
Despite this being the last song on their set list, when the band abruptly said thank you and briskly left the stage we knew it couldn’t be the end. It started off with a small group of boys, which grew into the whole venue shouting the basic chorus lyrics ‘You don’t want me, she doesn’t want me, don’t you want me’. Jack and the boys came back out with smiling faces and carried out our request. The mosh pits were still just as crazy, and with people climbing on stage and jumping off crowd-surfing the room was buzzing.
About to play another track (my prediction was ‘Shallow’) but they were cut short by the venue stage manager. The rowdy amongst the crowd were egging on the gig workers and shouting for a second encore track. The bands were so apologetic and laughed off the fact they had to end their set. This was the point everyone accepted the end and pushed to the front to try to retrieve a momentum from the truly special gig. My body was basically fawned over the barrier as Jack scrunched up a set list and gave it to the girl net to me. I didn’t give up and continued to get his attention, when Jack grabbed my hand and put his yellow plectrum inside it and flashed me his adorable grin.
It wasn’t the end, however. Whilst Angus and Paeris were having a fag outside, Jack and Kristian remained in the performance space and met fans. I got a photo with them and asked when they were releasing vinyls to which they answered “very soon”.
Dripping with sweat, with sequins and glitter fallen askew on my face, the same feeling from when I saw The Magic Gang last time returned; utter elation. I would say it was on par with Roundhouse as both had insane mosh pits and intimacy- they truly are magic at arousing the crowd.
I glugged a bottle of water, collected my signed VITAMIN record and put Jack’s plectrum safely in my purse. As I wondered around Tesco with my two new friends, who had just been strangers a couple of hours ago, we sang ‘Shallow’ as if to pretend they played it. It was an truly magical night.
That’s another thing I cannot stress my love for enough: you meet the most amazing people at gigs who share the same passion for music and talented artists. I would say I have made some life long friends with people I met at The Bullingdon, much like many other people I have grown close to through my love for music.
Being my last gig I can attend before my exams are over in the Summer, I hoped it would end on a high note, but Saturday passed all my expectations. everything from the amazing, lovely people in the crowd, to the genuine genius of all the bands’ music was a pleasure to be a part of. I am honestly so excited for Truck Festival where I can see the boys again. To read my interview with VITAMIN, check out the link below!
Twitter – @angelxwitney