It wasn’t the first time that Otherkin had performed at the Garage in Highbury, previously having supported the five piece guitar band, The Amazons at the venue. Now, touring UK venues promoting their debut album ‘OK’, they were not only the headline act, but had upgraded to a bigger venue to accommodate a larger audience.
Otherkin’s following have been growing since their catchy single ‘Ay Ay’ was released in 2015. A track that seemed to be influenced by and encompassed a lot of the energy of the 15 years of British guitar music. As former medical students, lead singer Luke Reilly and bassist David Anthony has many years of student life of musical influence to boast. When I asked the group which tracks influenced them the most during this time I wasn’t surprised to hear names like The Ramones, Blur and The Clash on the list.
The band has recently been in the press speaking out about sexual harassment at gigs. After an incident in which a fan was harassed in the audience at one of their shows, the band told me that ‘it removed our blinkers and we felt a strong urge to speak out against it.’ When asked whether they thought more artists should speak out against sexual harassment they replied, ‘more acts should do it, guys need to know that their actions at gigs can’t go unchecked.’ I was keen to see whether this would be an attitude reflected in their fan base and in the atmosphere at the gig.
When I arrived at the venue and the support bands began to perform, it really did seem as though it was a ‘space safe for everyone to enjoy themselves without fear of harassment or intimidation’ just as the band wanted. Clearly, gigs free of harassment are incredibly important.
They kicked off the performance with ‘Bad Advice’, followed by the 90s sounding ‘Come on, Hello’. By the time they had begun to play ‘Treat me so Bad’, the punchy first track from their album, Reilly had already whipped his top off and performed the rest of the set sans shirt. The crowd was lively but incredible good natured. Absolutely no spitting or piss throwing. Garage punk with none of the mess. The energy and enthusiasm of the band was palpable and certainly inspired an equally exuberant response from the audience. Reilly accomplished multiple stage dives, which I imagine is no mean feat. A clever and effective cover of ‘Love is a Losing Game’ was followed by their first single ‘Ay Ay’ and a guest appearance by a member of the Amazons.
The set ended as it began, with WW2 sirens and loud cheers. Much like the sirens to signal the beginning and end of the performance (a feature possibly drawn from the performances of hard-core punk band, Gallows) Otherkin are heavily inspired by other punk and guitar groups.
The material perhaps isn’t pushing any boundaries, but I think to complain about this would be to miss the point. The band were lively, confident and entertaining. As the band themselves advises, ‘you should do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t impede the joy of anyone else.’ They’re not pushing boundaries but they’re not impeding anyone’s joy, altogether resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable evening.