London – On its fifth London gig in the space of a fortnight, Brooklyn band Pavo Pavo could be excused for starting to think of the city as its second home, or at least by now might have memorised the London Underground map, in its North and East quadrants. The short European hop started with an appearance at Iceland Airwaves and ended with a support set for BC Camplight at Oslo. And before you begin to think of all things Nordic, that’s Oslo in Hackney, East London; a venue that couldn’t be any nearer to the local railway station, as it was once part of that same station.
The upstairs music room boasts a decent sound system lording it over a familiar rectangle of matte black walls and fixtures. Early comers caught an opening set by Inland Taipan (who, when I first Googled, returned the world’s most venomous snake). We only made it for the last two songs. Aisling Davis, who goes by the aforementioned moniker, was less scary; though she certainly mixed her mellower tones with alarming screams and played some angry guitar. She was accompanied by a sidekick who alternated between horn and double bass. File under interesting, for now.
With no excuses to miss the last train home, a fair sized crowd had built up for Pavo Pavo. After the departure of guitarist/vocalist Nolan Green and drummer Austin Vaughn, who were part of the original line-up that features on Pavo Pavo’s debut album, Young Narrator in the Breakers, the remaining members were bolstered for the live tour with the addition of new band mates: guitarist Peter Coccoma and drummer Noah Hecht. The new guys slotted comfortably into their positions, with Coccoma creating some symmetry in the moustache department, across the stage from founder member Oliver Hill. After a short instrumental intro, the band ripped into “Ruby (Let’s Buy the Bike),” with Ian Romer’s lyrical bass to the force and his voice blending exceptionally well with high register lead vocalists Eliza Bagg and Oliver Hill.
The immediate impression was how well the band was able to recreate the essence of its studio sound, yet add a very distinct live edge to it; for thoughtful, expressive music it was that little bit more in your face realised live. With Bagg working a small Casio, Hill switching between twin keyboards and electric guitar, and the pair taking turns to front the main vocal, there was variety as well as subtle fusion. “John (A Little Time)” showcased Eliza Bagg’s sensitive and beautifully toned soprano; the closing lines of the song in which she asks the titular character not to leave her were especially telling. Oliver Hill took over on the dreamy chamber-pop of “Wiserway,” a song full of light and shade that neatly segued into the instrumental “Young Narrator in the Breakers,” in which Peter Coccoma had his moment in the sun on slide guitar.
The modulating keyboard opening to “Annie Hall” provided a gentle prelude to a song that came richly alive with its epic Beach Boys-like harmonies and some weird and wonderful guitar and keyboard sounds. On first listening, two new songs, “Check the Weather” and “Statue is a Man Inside” appeared to slot in seamlessly with the album cuts, while Eliza Bagg’s harmonies were simply stratospheric on a dramatically realised “No Mind.” It is uncanny how Pavo Pavo can weld dance grooves to rich pop melodies so effectively!
When the band closed its show with arguably its most instantly appealing song “Ran Ran Run” (a piece that fuses dream pop with a disco beat in a surprisingly seamless manner), I was hit by a strong wish that set times might be more elastic. I could listen to Pavo Pavo all night; for sheer inventiveness and collective art this is surely a band to watch.
Young Narrator In The Breakers is out now and available to buy on iTunes. Keep in touch with Pavo Pavo via the band’s Facebook page.
Photography by Maja Smiejkowska for Best New Bands.
Tony’s great passion in life is music and nothing gives him more pleasure than unearthing good, original new music and championing independent musicians. His association with Best New Bands brings great opportunities for this. He also writes for Consequence of Sound and is a judge for Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition.
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