Review-Sundara Karma at Sub89, Reading- 11th March 2016

Picture: Adam Burzynski
You know you’re getting old when you accidentally stumble across a youth cult. This is the lesson I learnt at Sundara Karma’s recent gig at Sub89 on the 11th of March, which was full to bursting with 15-17 year olds with enough energy to make me reach for my Zimmer frame, even if I am only 21 (although at least it did mean that there wasn’t much of a queue at the bar). Support came in the form of Pale Waves, self-described as “Glitter and reverb” and Beach Baby, who went with “A bit grungy, a bit dreampop, but really…good”, although maybe if they hadn’t been put on the spot they would’ve had a more eloquent description to hand. Both bands got a well-deserved reception from the crowd, who seemed as excited to see the support as they were to see Sundara Karma themselves, a refreshing change from the standard attitude of “if they aren’t the headline act I’m not interested” that seems to permeate most crowds at gigs.
 
Sundara Karma themselves were clearly having the time of their lives, which, given they were playing to a sold out crowd on the cusp of hero worship in their hometown at the end of a UK wide tour is understandable. An indie guitar band have to go the extra mile to get noticed in such a packed field, but the combination of singer Oscar Lulu’s stage presence and vocal confidence give Sundara Karma an edge that might just propel them to the top of the pile. Songs like “Flame” and “A Young Understanding” showed the band at their best and made the gig feel like something you’d be able to tell people about when the band are playing at the Ally Pally in a few years’ time. Having said this there were times when they seemed to devolve into a poor man’s version of The Maccabees, especially towards the end of the second half of their set with tracks like “The Night” failing to stick in the mind in the way that the band’s best work does.
 

 

This might be a bit unfair on the band however, as without even a debut album out its understandable that Sundara Karma are forced to play everything they’ve done to fill a live set, so the fact that some songs are significantly more polished than others can’t really be held against them. Even the less memorable tracks aren’t bad, they just aren’t quite as good as the others, something that’s easily picked up on when listening to them being played side by side. Overall Sundara Karma’s homecoming was a night to remember, even if it did make me nostalgic for a few years ago when I too had bad hair, a fake ID and an 11pm bedtime, mainly because it would mean I wouldn’t have felt so strange at Friday’s gig.
 
(Written for The Spark*)
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