Glass Animals – J2, Cambridge – Monday, April 28


Glass Animals have managed to make my dancing style sexy. Really sexy.

Their first gig in Cambridge has been a while coming after being rescheduled last month as frontman Dave found himself hospitalised just before their UK tour kicked off. But, after “being force fed enough soup to drown a yak” he’s back on his feet and the boys have found time to visit the ‘bridge before running off to the States once more.

Bounding onto the stage with toddler-on-sugar ferocity, opener ‘Black Mambo’ is a sure crowd pleaser, before they settle into a more mellow tone with original singles ‘Psylla’ and ‘Exxus’. Despite the chilled vibe, and strange intimacy of the set, Dave’s dancing doesn’t let up. It’s sexy. Very sexy. In the only way that white-boy dancing can be. And I feel an odd affinity with it which can only be taken as a sign that I should let go and join the swaying mass as stand-out single ‘Gooey’ begins to play.

Their sound is beefed up for the live show: added guitars and bass seem to fill in the gaps that give the album a more relaxed feel. The similarities with Alt-J really smack you in the face hearing the record live – even the most music-iliterate would be far pushed to not make the connections. It adds to the intricate mad world that Dave creates with his stories of moles, snakes and a ‘pooh-bear’ who just wants those ‘peanut butter vibes’. Flitting between soft falsetto and chants which you cannot fail to follow, he puts in a solid vocal performance which is equally matched by bandmates Drew, Ed and Joe.

Bringing the fast-paced hour set to a close with a cover of Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’ and another favourite from their debut, ‘Pools’, Glass Animals slink off stage almost as quickly as they arrived. Admittedly they could work on their crowd interaction: aside from the traditional thank-yous and queries as to whether we’re having a good time – at one point I swear we lock eyes when he asks this, sending me into a catcall frenzy – there wasn’t much chat to be had. Something which would certainly have been adored, judging by the number of hazy-eyed twenty-somethings in the crowd.

I almost buy a t-shirt on the way out, but my lack of cash prevents me; a safety feature I implemented after impulse spending too much on tour stash has left me with a chest-of-drawers full of band memorabilia… but I can’t help but feel the collection would have been a whole lot better with a new addition. Thankfully enough gigs have taught me to hang around and nab a setlist from the stage, so, list in hand, it was time for the walk back to town for a night of dreams of Dave’s swaying and the summer to come.

GeekStar5: 5 years on, 5 roles later, 1 love affair

Five years ago I thought I was going to become a pop-sensation.

Okay, not quite, but I was firmly set on the idea of producing my own music and had just set up a youtube channel and was beginning to cover songs, record and gig. It was great, I truly loved it. And now, sitting here five years later listening to that first track I ever recorded and stuck up online, I can honestly say that I’m actually rather proud of it. I don’t think I come across as a silly kid which is nice, for a change.

My engagement with music over the past five years has seen a full transformation. From that kid on the stage I’ve since been the reviewer at the back, the groupie post-show wanting to stay the whole night, the event manager, and the band booker. It’s been hugely varied, at times extremely stressful but what I can say for absolute certain is that my love affair with the industry – and the personalities who occupy it – is just as real now as it was five years ago. I may no longer hanker to be the ‘star of the show’ but I still dream of my involvement in some small way.

So what is it that I still find appealing about the musical world?

I think it’s the variation and the excitement; although a slightly less savoury answer, but one that is equally true nonetheless, would be the celebrity factor. As a kid it became quickly apparent that I had some ‘fame complex’ much akin to the one that Russell Brand described when he spoke at the Cambridge Union last year. In fact, he’s the only person to describe something scarily similar to how I felt. Combined with a fear of death – and when I say fear, I mean tear-inducing – it made for a difficult growing up. The realisation, for those who have a fame complex, that they may never reach what is not just a goal but a desperate need, is horrific. I’m sure now that part of my intense fear of death was coupled with this: I would constantly worry about not being remembered and having never achieved anything of note.

Thankfully today I am not quite so much this fame-focused youth. I like to think that I have put most of those demons to bed. Admittedly, though, there are parts of this that will never go away and I am intensely aware that my love affair with music is propelled by the last vestiges of it. I’m not so sure that this is a bad thing really, however. I mean, consider the number of people who go into professions on the basis that they want to get rich quick and retire at 30; consider the number of people who stupidly, and I mean stupidly, abuse their bodies in order to look just like Kim Kardashian or any other celebrity figure for that matter. On that basis, the fame complex that pushes me to get involved with music/events/the media/journalism is not so much of a bad thing at all.

In fact, I rather like it. It’s a part of me.

So five years on from GeekStar5 (our wonderful little youtube name), I’ve had five roles in music but the one love affair still remains. And long may it reign.

Name something you’re proud of?

Now this post is long overdue, and for that I am sorry. Like most things in my life it seems, I am very good at coming up with ideas of things to do but never quite as good when it comes to putting them into action. Thankfully, there are people in the world who are good at this, and who want to make sure those of us who aren’t learn how, so I am currently on the Sprint programme which is a personal development course for women.

Today, or I suppose I should say yesterday as it’s after midnight, we considered things that we were proud of and conversely things which we saw as our challenges. Unsurprisingly I could think of a million and one challenges that I face juggling degree work with trying to get involved with all that Cambridge has to offer, and somehow attempting to negotiate the careers market all at the same time. It was much harder to consider things that I was proud of; well, all except one thing, and it’s something that I have been planning on writing about for a while and this has given me the final push to do so.

I know he’ll probably hate me for this, because, well, he’s supposed to. It’s his job to, in a way.

Today I was happy to admit that I am proud of my brother, Zach. I’ve put that in bold just to be super annoying, if this wasn’t enough already.

Why? Because he serves as a constant reminder of how committed someone can be to their goals and how someone can truly fall in love with an industry and pursue it regardless of the barriers and the costs.

He’s a cracking musician and performs at places that would normally kick you out at his age (he’s still only 17, yet everyone assumes he must be 20-odd with the way he caries himself and performs). And at the same time he works damn hard completing A-Levels, getting stellar grades despite the fact that he has always ‘hated school’, and now brushes off full-marks as if they’re no big deal.

Yet they are…I never performed the way he does academically yet I am now studying at (if we’re all honest here) the best University in the World. I am in awe of him. I wish I could be more like him. I wish I could have the drive that he has; the passion he has for music; the unexpected yet natural ability within academia.

Today’s post is in part a homage then to my brother and my pride in him. But it’s also, more widely, about how we can have pride in things without even realising it; we can have pride in things which we far too often overlook. It’s not that before today I was ashamed to say I was proud of my brother, but before today I don’t know whether I would have been able to identify that this is truly how I felt.

So cheers to Sprint for helping me to establish that one of my biggest motivators, and something which I am truly thankful for, is my brother. And thanks to you for getting to the end of what is an uncharacteristically soppy post. Whilst you’re at it, make sure you listen to some of his music, I couldn’t end without linking you all to it. Click here for some serenading.