This week, the much-publicised Live Music Mondays kicked off, featuring headline act Sam & The Womp. Poor ticket sales led to a considerably disappointing launch but the crowd swelled towards the end as students prepared themselves to ‘womp’.
Changes to the line up throughout the day meant that the whole event was held in the West Ref, apart from americana band Sienna who played in Bridge Bar and Stags. Mama Smokes kicked the evening off later than anticipated but performed a solid 25 minute set of their funky rock tunes. Lead singer Jo Stevens had a fun and feisty stage presence and their set was clearly well rehearsed so the whole band sounded good together, if not a little amateur-ish.
To change the pace completely, this was followed by pop-enthusiast Queen Of Hearts who delivered massive electro-club beats with impressive vocals. A distinctive stage presence, Queen Of Hearts was also accompanied by a DJ but all eyes were on her as she belted out some sickeningly typically named pop tracks such as ‘Perfect Moment’, ‘Like A Drug’ and ‘Sugar Bullet,’ to great effect. Queen Of Hearts sounded like David Guetta featuring Little Boots and La Roux, meaning it was a great set to watch, but it was a shame that she was on so early in the evening.
Over in the Bridge Bar saw a more chilled out, friendly performance from Scottish americana 6-piece, Sienna. Crystal harmonies were sung by the mellow bunch who radiated warmth and good vibes, creating an excellent atmosphere. Their set which featured covers of Woody Guthrie and Old Crow Medicine Show also included many of their own tracks from their Lonesome Man demo EP. The multi-instrumentalists even switched effortlessly between mandolin, banjo, flute, double bass, and a trumpet. Upbeat folky songs were crossed against more reflective tracks like ‘Slow Down, Slow Down’, making Sienna the night’s surprise highlight.
Meanwhile, back over in the West Ref, it couldn’t be contested that Fly,Frankie,Fly had a successful evening: the band as a whole managed to rally a half empty room of sullen Freshers into dancing and singing. Frankie, a natural performer, took his shoes off for this gig. He made the most of this freedom by jumping on and off stage with boundless energy. With a full band Fly, Frankie, Fly could explore their genre of eclectrodubstepravefunk to its full potential. From the synth-player to the guitarists there was well practiced and excellently executed fluidity.
The Robbie Boyd Band played the longest set of the night; 45 minutes of whacky, feel-good festival folk which also included some saxophone solos and speedy bongo playing. An odd choice for the penultimate act as their music in no way correlated to that of the headline act, but they were certainly pleasant to listen to and they drew a larger crowd into the room with plenty of audience participation.
Sam & The Womp played an expectedly bizarre 30 minute set which included a number of other tracks such as ‘Zeppelin’ and ‘Posh Ragga’, which didn’t really sound that much different from their number 1 single. Combining bass with brass is an interesting path to take, and the members of the band are clearly all accomplished musicians but sadly Sam & The Womp seem to be a one trick pony. They displayed nothing new and exciting in their set, although most of the audience did seem to enjoy their performance, particularly when Sam taught the 4 stages of womping to the crowd. Lady Oo was out in force in a sparkly leotard and managed to build on her strange persona with a keyboard that started exploding in the middle of their set; I don’t think that was meant to happen. Sam & The Womp’s fame from their single ‘Bom Bom’ was great whilst it lasted, but it seems unlikely that they will sell any more records. Very, very odd.