Imagine a bevy of intellectual young lads who, paired with a penchant for outlandish fashion, channel literature great Shakespeare for inspiration before they don their guitars and sit down to write. This is the amalgamation of Reading indie quartet Sundara Karma, who boast such promise in the indie scene as they teeter on the edge of finally breaking it.
Sundara Karma have had such a huge year, despite not even having a full length album out yet – though one is set for release in early 2017 – with an appearance on main stage at Reading & Leeds Festivals, they have gained a diehard following in such a short amount of time. That following was out at Newcastle’s waterfront venue Riverside, ready for a taste of everything they’ve produced thus far.
A shrill call out regarding a neck scarf, worn by vocalist and guitarist Oscar Lulu, prompts fans to pocket their phones (surprising, though true) their eyes up and trained on the band as they gather each of their respective instruments ready to play. They are a mix of silk and floral shirts, with long hair hiding their faces.
There’s something shy about their movements, there isn’t a whole lot of stage presence through the first half of the set, nor is there much interaction with the crowd. It doesn’t seem to matter, as fans are simply thrilled to hear the likes of ‘Indigo Puff’ and ‘A Young Understanding’ translated so seamlessly live. They prove that a huge setup, or expensive lighting, is not necessarily needed to make it a memorable live show.
Perhaps they’ll break out of their shell a bit in the future but it does make some moments a little more special. The opening notes of Never Too Much by Luther Vandross bring everyone to life, the older members of the crowd suddenly springing forward to be part of the chaos, surprised by the unexpected cover.
“This is a new song,” Lulu begins as he tunes his guitar ready. It’s followed by a shrug as he continues with; “You won’t know the words but… make them up I guess.” The song he’s talking about is Deep Relief, it’s quintessentially Sundara Karma with the the same upbeat melodies. It’s a relief, surely, for fans and gives a little hope that the new album won’t be too far off from what they’ve already produced.
Though the set is somewhat lacking in places, on technicalities and musicality, they’re brilliant. They’re the time of band you can hoist a beer to and sing along with, the type of feel good band that will have you smiling when you leave from hearing their music and after such success, well it’s only up from here.