Review by Maddie Player
Hurtling towards the end of their whirlwind UK tour, young Guildford quartet Estevans played their first London headline show in over a year on Wednesday 20th October. They put on a stellar show that marks a defining moment of development for the band.
They were received by a ravenous crowd in Camden Assembly, primed and electrified by support acts The Surlings and Owners Club, hand-picked by the band.
Estevans opened with their latest single, ‘Cecily’s Cage’, fresh from the studio of legendary Britpop producer Stephen Street. The B Chord rings out in the venue and kicks the song into action. Ollie Thomas’ drums gradually increasing the tempo and sets a nice bouncing pace for the eager crowd in Franz Ferdinand fashion.
Bassist Matt Saunders provides dream-like foundations to the soon-to-be-released ‘Left Behind’, a song that proves the band can skim along the boundary between sensitivity and total abandon. The laid-back verse gives way to a more urgent chorus; lyricist-guitarist Guy Ferris’ phrase ‘I’ve got a fear of missing out, left behind in a shade of doubt’ reflects the anxieties of a generation trying to cope with the uncertainties of being a young person in a global pandemic; yet the sweaty mosh-pits wonderfully juxtapose with this fear.
The band bursts confidently into ‘Telephone Line’, with a soaring chorus that has real anthem potential; if only they would release it. Rumour is they are jumping back into the studio for an EP next year and have a single coming out next month, thus breaking their one-release-a-year curse. And with a refreshed line up and revised sound, Thomas tells me they are ‘fully committing to the lifestyle’ of being in a band.
Frontman Oscar Post provides a masterclass in how to handle the rowdy crowd. He prowls about the stage like a bullfighter, demanding the attention of his raucous audience while also taking the occasional plunge to surf along the sea of excitable bobbing heads.
In a break Estevans cheekily tease old hit ‘Gotta Know You’, the cheery opening chords are met with a cheer from the crowd before being rudely interrupted with the punchy hi-hat intro and screeching riff of ‘Cellar Door’. Whilst ‘Gotta Know You’ is one of their most popular songs among fans, the band have grown to resent its naivety.
They show their maturity by refusing to bow to popular demand at the expense of their new direction; it’s a catchy tune, but the shallow lyrics pale in comparison to ‘Cellar Door’s’ pensive main hook ‘Change yourself, wish you could change yourself’ which certainly suggests the band is grappling with a period of desire for reinvention. After the evening’s self-assured performance, you could certainly say they’ve achieved that.
Final song ‘Magazine Head’s’ whining guitar paired with the lazy drawl of Post and Ferris’ vocals create a calmer atmosphere. Its hypnotic progression lulls its listeners into a false sense of security as Thomas’ steady beat leads the audience down an unexpected path. He gradually builds speed, relentlessly smashing the drums in Fabrizio Moretti style. The whole band is consumed by the demanding crescendo, simultaneously sucking their audience in as if a black hole has been torn in the middle of the venue. A real stand-out song from this set, their mature performance demonstrates their dedication to their craft.
Responding to chants of ‘one more song’, the band returns to the stage for an encore, playing none other than the fan favourite ‘2 minutes from the Lincoln’. The assertive opening riff delights the room, which was sent into a frenzy as the song reaches its pace. It’s the kind of song that says, it’s now or never. For this exciting young band, it’s very much now.
The boys wrap up their tour tonight (Saturday 23rd) at The Royal Park, Leeds. Get your tickets here.