It's been a little while since I last popped into the upstairs area of The Lock Tavern in Camden but it remains as "cosy" as ever. Thankfully, the weather is relatively mild as the room temperature increases steadily by the minute when the bands take to the stage - tonight's out of town offerings, Oxford's Spring Offensive and Northerners Hey Sholay.
First up are Spring Offensive, who I can just about see from the back of the bar. (Where it takes me an eternity to get a drink, not least because the venue is near pitch black and the barmaid lacks night vision goggles.) Pint in hand, I prop myself up at the bar ready to assess the oncoming sweeping melodrama, which has only periodically impressed me on record.
The band begin with new single 'Not Drowning But Waving' and soon I find an oomph in the Spring Offensive live set that I rarely hear in their recorded material. Their post-rock influence also comes forth more prominently, especially on tracks like '52 Miles'. They also unveil a couple of new songs, with the deadpan introduction of "We don't have a problem with boring you guys." Of the two, 'No Assets' is one to particularly look out for, with its "if we're serious then we should start saving refrain".
I wouldn't say Spring Offensive fully win me over but they put in an accomplished performance, as well as dispensing sound fiscal advice. Hey Sholay emerge soon after, and I unexpectedly found myself at the front of the crowd - a slight worry as there is no hope of making it to the loos should I need them. (I have the bladder of a small child.)
Luckily, that fear doesn't come to fruition. Instead, I find myself engrossed by the spirited set that follows. The band's more psychedelic early influences make their appearance on tracks like 'Dreamboat' but it's the "aquarium indie" sound on the likkes of 'Shut The Devil At The Backdoor' and the enthralling anthem 'Burning' that truly delights.
There are moments that lull and perhaps feel a tad self indulgent but overall, Hey Sholay show themselves as worthy headliners, and their recent debut album '((o))' is worth a spin. Unfortunately, tonight's crowd is generally subdued but it's rare for a London crowd to be anything but. Nonetheless, everyone seems to have had a good night and both bands can consider the evening a success.
Find more info at heysholay.com and springoffensive.co.uk.