23-music-sundara-karma

Sundara Karma: Rousing and on the rise

The Liquid Room, Edinburgh

23 September

For a band citing Shakespeare as an influence, Reading-based four-piece Sundara Karma deliver a pleasingly accessible brand of indie-rock. While they are not exactly rocking the anthemic-indie boat with their upbeat, melodic tales of drugged-up relationships and escapism, their self-described ‘consumable’ sound translates well to a live show, surrounded by other sweaty bodies. You do not need to know the songs well, if at all, in order to sing along, a fact used to their advantage while doing the rounds of the small clubs and cult venues of Britain over the last few years. The band may still be in its EP-phase, but they deliver a clean, confident performance.

Following on from two crowd-rousing support acts, London’s Joyroom and zealous, indie-grunge FREAK from Essex, Sundara Karma encounter little difficulty in maintaining the momentum in The Liquid Room, with the crowd belting out “You’re the one” (x6) from the get-go during opener ‘Indigo Puff’. Frontman Oscar Lulu, whose androgynous, open-shirted style gives off whiffs of Brian Molko and Matty Healy, commands the stage with ease, without being either irritatingly in-your-face or overly distant.

Except for a brief mid-show greeting with the front row, he grants little in the line of audience interaction, but the crowd does not seem too bothered. They are busy chanting, cheering, clapping and arranging a circle pit for what seems like every hopping, arm-flailing chorus, from the unfailing “Hey”s of ‘Loveblood’ to the half-rhyming of “wonderful” and “miserable” in ‘Run Away’. Lulu and his boys know the merits of a short and simple chorus in a live setting. Although it is difficult to tell if the sweat on your arm is your own or if it belongs to the guy beside you, the crowd are up for it all. Even the couple of songs from upcoming debut album Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect receive an enthusiastic response, but not to the same extent as a stomping cover of Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much’.

As the set clocks in at a comfortable 60 minutes, the band gives the crowd a last chance to hoarsen their voices for the morning with a two-song encore. It features a perfect send-off number ‘The Night’, with its simple and balanced bass lines and drums allowing Lulu’s wavering vocal trills to take precedence as he sings about wanting to stay in the night. Judging from the vigour of the audience, everyone shares his desire. As the venue empties, band-emblazoned knickers are for sale for, as Lulu nonchalantly puts it, “like £50”, and within a few minutes the band can be spotted outside the doors, signing eager, unwitting fans’ foreheads with such wise gems as “Fuk da system”. The Shakespearean influence may not have made itself outwardly evident yet, but judging from their offering at The Liquid Room, Sundara Karma will not have to satisfy themselves with club basements for much longer.

Photo: Notes on Sounds

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