Odd Box Promotions is the project of Georgie Cox, a Norwich-based curator whose eccentric nights have grown in recent years to become fully established in the local scene. Having progressed from smaller venues like The Murderers on Timber Hill, Odd Box is now a staple feature on the programme at Norwich Arts Centre. Last Saturday’s edition saw five fantastic local acts take to two stages in a showcase of the best alternative music our city has to offer.
First on in the main hall, Ellie Bleach dazzles with her melancholic, lo-fi disco songs. Her outfit – a striking red suit paired with white sports trainers – is an accurate representation of her music, as much 70s New York jazz bar as it is fashion student club night in South London.
It’s almost impossible to squeeze into the bar area where Happy Coloured Marbles take to the second stage, displaying their churning noise-rock numbers to a crowd of friends and family. Later it’s Gladboy‘s turn, the chirpy trio performing acoustically for the first time ever. While frontman George Orton’s zippy guitar skills seem almost too fast for him to keep up with at times, the group deliver upbeat, indie tracks with tightness and charisma, essences of Vampire Weekend or The Magic Gang detectable throughout.
Creepy Neighbour don’t look like much when they walk on stage in the hall, all hoodies and wry smiles, but every preconception is shattered once they start playing. Part shoegaze, part garage, it’s difficult to pin down how they sound overall; with one song comes soothing, drawn-out sections akin to Alt-J or Radiohead, the next throws of prickly Britpop. The Future Islands-esque ‘Break A Leg’ is a highlight, frontman Max Taylor’s androgynous vocal fluttering over repetitive bass and whistling keys.
Birds Of Hell is the night’s main attraction. A regular solo performer but joined tonight by a backing band, Pete Murdoch’s dense, almost spoken-word performance is second to none on the local circuit. With a dry wit and an impassioned, honest delivery, each song feels more poignant than the last. ‘Practice Punching My Hand Son’, a cut about Murdoch’s young boy being bullied, seems to hit home just as much as ‘Spiderman’s Let Himself Go’, a sparky ode to a roadside character, pizza shop sign in hand. Some personal favourites are ‘Two Brothers’, an epic song that summons a feeling of nervous adventure, and the sample-heavy ‘Los Yarmouth’, about Great Yarmouth succumbing to the sea in a hundred years’ time. Under rippling aqua lights, you can almost sense what it would be like to go “spearfishing in the amusement arcade”.
Make sure to visit the Odd Box Facebook page for details on all their upcoming shows.