Last Friday (31st March) saw the London date of the triple-bill, three-week UK tour of artists from Dirty Hit (the independent label that includes The 1975, Wolf Alice and The Japanese House on its impressive roster) hit Tufnell Park. This particular run of shows was headlined by Superfood - recent Dirty Hit signees currently prepping their first release with the label, their as-yet-untitled sophomore LP. Supporting them were King Nun and Pale Waves, two exciting young four-pieces being introduced to the label’s devoted audience on this tour.
The welcome spectre of The 1975 hangs large over the night at The Dome, from a discarded lighter spotted on the bar with the band’s logo emblazoned across it, to the first set of the night. Pale Waves only currently have one officially released track, the popular set-closer ‘There’s A Honey’ (produced by the aforementioned group’s Matty and George), but their light, summery indie-pop vibes are warmly received by the gathering crowd. Even tracks that are more morose in theme, such as one that lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie introduces as “about being alone on New Year’s Eve,” get people moving. A particular highlight is ‘Heavenly’, which generated buzz for the Manchester-based group back in 2015 and still sounds just as fresh.
King Nun are roughly the same age as the crowd at their feet. The teenage Londoners are Dirty Hit’s heaviest act, with tracks inspired, presumably, by an upbringing listening to The White Stripes and Green Day (whose influence is particularly felt on recent release ‘Hung Around’), as well as contemporaries such as Royal Blood and Slaves. The star of the show is vocalist and guitarist Theo, a slight, androgynous presence whose charisma and wit emanate from the stage. He’s clearly living out his rockstar dreams, even if that means having an alarming disregard for health and safety, ending the set by launching himself over the drum-kit and its owner, Caius. (He was also spotted at soundcheck earlier in the afternoon running around barefoot, ignoring the calls of his bandmates and crew to put some shoes on.) King Nun’s performance never ceases to be fun or amusing, particularly when a track gets named by the crowd. “‘Big’ or ‘Wet Wipe’?” Theo asks. The latter title is shouted back at him. “Right then. This song’s called ‘Wet Wipe’,” he announces, launching into a fun, raucous number that utilises spoken word.
The excitement is palpable before the arrival of Superfood. Fans let out screams of excitement when they recognise extracts of their favourite tracks as the crew test the levels of the keyboards. A chant of “SU-PER-FOOD!” welcomes Dom, Ryan and their two touring musicians to the stage, where they launch into the only cut from the upcoming record that fans have heard, the bouncy and loveable ‘Double Dutch’, a track clearly already adored by their devoted following.
It may have been two years since they last played live - losing two band-members along the way - but distance (and time) has clearly only made the hearts of Superfood’s fans grow fonder. Two years of pent-up energy comes out in jumps from the young crowd that continue through the more familiar tracks from the band’s 2014 debut LP ‘Don’t Say That’. They sing back every word to ‘You Can Believe’ and ‘Bubbles’. A trio of new cuts are received just as positively, if with more attention than physical energy. Superfood 2.0 is softer and brighter, with ska and reggae influences on ‘I Can’t See’, and the utterly joyful ‘Natural Super Soul’ taking inspiration from the best of Britpop-era Blur. “If you want to dance to a song you’ve never ever heard before, this is the one,” Dom announces as they begin ‘Where’s The Bass Amp?’, a clear highlight from the new material that will most likely be a fan-favourite even before the record drops in the Summer. It’s a hugely fun cut that samples DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s ‘Boom! Shake The Room’ and inspires a whole-crowd handclap on the a capella middle eight that leaves the band beaming.
The jumping has turned to moshing. A dozen fans are on friends’ shoulders. This turns to crowd-surfing. Legs flail in the air as Superfood play ‘Superfood’. Soon these legs are onstage, jumping from the edge to be caught by outstretched arms, before returning to the stage and going again. The crowd are wild for one of the band’s most popular tracks, but also the spectacle of the acrobatics taking place before them. By the last chorus, multiple fans are having a go. One girl can’t quite open Snapchat fast enough before a bouncer pulls her offstage. “I’m 14!” she pleads, as he escorts her out into the harsh fluorescent light of the stairwell.
After one of the quickest encores in history, the band close the set with 'TV'. We’ve barely reached the first chorus before a bona fide stage invasion is underway. Five becomes ten, ten becomes twenty. Dom and Ryan are lost in a gaggle of their devotees, pulling the mic this way and that. Security give up. The song - and thus, the gig - reaches an unnatural conclusion, the sort of live equivalent of a fade-out. The night has ended in traditional rock and roll fashion, with the energy and fervour stirred up by the three bands boiling to the surface.
Such a frenzied reaction must be a huge relief to Superfood, a band returning after years away from the live scene with a completely reinvented sound. If this is the reaction they can generate after just ten tracks, who’s to say what they’ll be able to do to a crowd once it loves the new record as much as it does the first.
Lily For Your Pad To Rest On
You Can Believe
I Can’t See
Natural Super Soul
Where’s the Bass Amp?
Right On Satellite