This article was first published to The Edge on October 11th 2017
Given how nonchalant many of Superfood’s songs sound, you woud be forgiven for having no set expectations for their live show. Surely, to create a memorable experience, more would need to be done than just amplifying the sound? Even in the enthusiastic environment of The Joiners, there’s still the question as to how exactly the more out-there grooves and rhythms of Bambino would play to the crowd; little did I know that the roughly 100 people in the Joiners’ crowd came to play. And, so did Superfood.
For their sophomore album tour, Dom Ganderton and Ryan Malcom faced the challenge of how to appeal to crowds who might want more of the more typical indie rock sound of Don’t Say That. Large portions of Bambino play as if the duo’s new freedom, lacking two of their previous band members, let them swerve away from the hastily applied Britpop genre label that their debut acquired. Songs such as ‘TV’ cannot be easily retooled to mimic their self-remixed song ‘Double Dutch (Dubble Dutch)’. Smartly, they’ve split the difference: playing with a tour bassist and drummer, the drums, fresh guitar parts, and vocals on the latter are sharper and more forceful than ever, while the winking angst in the former has been amplified to newer levels.
That’s the trick with Britpop. It’s easy to forget if it’s not live, because of the inherently low stakes and/or emotion in so many of the genre’s music, but when that’s glued to growling and screeching guitar power, you can get a crowd to bounce and mosh around to a chorus of “I can never sleep without the TV on!” like it’s a punk gig. Which they did.
If you needed an idea for the sort of atmosphere to expect from the revamped Superfood’s gig, you could do worse than listening to ‘Bubbles’ from their MAM EP. Making a surprising early appearance on their Joiners setlist, one could easily imagine the aggressive power chords of its intro and post-chorus inspiring the wall-shaking mosh pits that indeed resulted. However, in the margins the song gives the band space to play around with little riffs – as the duo did throughout the gig, with Dom ceding centre stage so that Ryan (on lead guitar) could lean over the audience, and knock out some mean licks and sharp solos.
Certainly, it didn’t hurt that over half of the near-capacity venue were more than game to sing (or convincingly swing) along to even the group’s latest, least obviously boppy tunes, such as woozy album closer ‘Clo Park’. Since this song is far too down tempo, not to mention full of squeaky synths, to be the most invigorating end to a set, it is –conveniently – the perfect sound with which to come down from their set’s rapid-pulse beginning. What’s more, the reaction afforded to Superfood’s snaking, antsy ‘Need A Little Spider’, provided one of the best moments of the night. As punchy as the middle-eight’s raucous overdrive breakdown is, the song’s atmosphere on a whole is like trying to enjoy locking eyes with a tiger, mid-pounce. Hearing the crowd croon along with Dom for the chorus, it showed that there is potential for the band’s unusual music to gain plenty of new fans on their tours. As it turns out, turning up the volume of their albums’ nonchalance only brings out their onstage animals.
Watch Superfood’s music video for their single ‘I Can’t See’ below: