By Lydia Kendall-McDougall
Keg thrive on performing live. Last in a line-up of some great and widely varied acts- Pop Vulture, Jean Penne and Yard Act-, they lit up the intimate venue of Hyde Park Book Club’s basement with their eclectic, genre-bending set.
Having listened to a few of Keg’s demos prior to the gig (which are available on soundcloud), I wasn’t sure what to expect. I couldn’t place the band in a specific genre or category, and with such a variation of demos I was eager to see how they translated to live performance; I was not disappointed. In a relatively short set (or maybe it just went quickly, props to them) I experienced a tapestry of genre, including jazz, rock and spoken word. One aspect that really impressed me was the structure of each track, with excellent pacing, shifts in tempo and mood. This not only made the audience eager for more- lead vocalist Albert Haddenham jokingly encouraged the crowd’s chants for an encore- but they essentially provoked a mosh pit in the living-room sized space. The very movements of the crowd were so in sync with clever changes in each track that the set became interactive, multidimensional and unpredictable. Despite having listened to some of the tracks beforehand, I was kept on my toes, and I think that’s always a win with live music.
The band themselves clearly worked well together. All seven of them just managed to fit onto the tiny stage, with a couple almost hidden towards the back, but not one member stole the limelight; everyone had their moment, from Frank Lindsay’s virtuoso guitar solo, to William Wiffen’s simultaneous synth and maracas, to Charlie Keen swapping his trombone for a conch shell. Every member of the band celebrated each other, which made the performance all the more enjoyable for its genuineness and unpretentiousness. They were always communicating musically (at times feeding each other beer) and it was clear that they knew what they were doing, and so were able to relax into the performance.
It seems that Keg can only keep getting better with their live productions; the only suggestion I have is that they tighten up their studio recordings. At present, they’re a band I’d go and see for the experience of hearing and seeing them live, and I look forward to when that positive experience will translate to recorded tracks. While I stand by my opinion that live performance is this band’s greatest strength (which many artists, despite clean-cut Spotify tracks, are yet to achieve), the more they work outside of this the more their gigs will outlive the time-frame of the set.
Overall, Keg are one to keep your eye on. They’re talented, original and they know what they’re doing, even at such an early stage in their careers, which bodes well for their future endeavours. It’s always a pleasure to walk almost-blindly into new music and come out eager to hear more, and I’m certain I’m not the only one who felt that way. Plus, vocalist Haddenham is multi-talented outside of just music- watch out for his upcoming play at The Holbeck, How To Beat Up Your Dad, on 9th Feb, performing alongside his tour-mate Jean Penne, who deserves an entire review to himself. It’s free!