REVIEW: Jockstrap at Yellow Arch
As part of their recent UK-tour, electro-pop duo Jockstrap crashed into Yellow Arch last month, hot on the heels of BBC Radio 6 airplay of latest single ‘Concrete Over Water’. Exposed popped along to check out their eccentric brand of experimental pop first-hand…
26th May saw Yellow Arch play host to the glitch-hop electro weirdness that is Jockstrap for a strangely endearing evening full of whimsy, big drops and genre swapping that would upset your da.
Over the last few years, Jockstrap’s willingness to experiment across all things pop and electro has gained quite the cult following and recent radio play has ensured that against all probability, the unusual mashups could be propelled further, to an even bigger, dare we say mainstream audience.
For us, their most recent release, Concrete Over Water, best showcases all that is great about Georgia Ellery (who you may recognise from Black Country, New Road) and her haunting vocal delivery, and Taylor Skye’s madcap instrumental layering. This brand of vintage-sounding, almost soundtrack-like, ballads, fused with Skye’s insane electronic wizardry is endlessly captivating. It’s pop, but a proper wonky, twisted version of it.
So, what of their Sheffield gig? Well, after falling foul of the recent air travel chaos (their flight to Blighty from Dublin was delayed. Thanks Brexit!), Jockstrap arrived at the famous Sheffield arches with barely time to soundcheck. With proceedings slightly delayed, and with less than ideal prep, Jockstrap took to the stage pooled in purple light, met by an eager, packed out Yellow Arch – people wanted to let rip. It was in the air.
They were made to wait just a little bit longer. With a short, if understandable amount of warming up required, and a sterling effort made by the Yellow Arch techs, the show really picked up as it progressed. Their sound is difficult to pin down, part dream-like and airy, with ethereal meanders through melody-led filmic verses, they often shunt into big and raucous electronic pay-offs, and when they come, the satisfying drops hit hard.
Tracks like Acid float through swaying bodies, while the squiffy synths and heavy bass of closing track, The City, pick those bodies up and rattle them about. It’s a lot of fun to be dragged through it all.
The nature of two folks on a stage, with limited traditional, analogue instruments (violin notwithstanding), often means there’s an element of repetition to a live sound, and a danger of becoming stale. No such warmed-up imitation of the recordings here though, as the pair glide through the set, bouncing off each other, using the natural peaks and troughs of their sometimes-disorientating dynamic to drive into a final three tracks that any touring act would be more than happy to close out their set with.
Moving from the grace and beauty of Concrete Over Water, to the unhinged 50/50 and closing with The City, we left satisfied, if not a little intrigued to see where all this could go.