Islet. Georgian Theatre, Stockton. 01/10/10


There’s something wonderfully, almost magically, childish about Islet. You know the moment as a kid when you first recorded the sound of your own voice? Islet have taken that one step further, recreating those sounds and babbled words into live vocals. Add that to the grown up version of running round the house, with three friends, hitting random objects just to see what kind of sound they make, and you’re not a million miles from the Islet live experience.

Islet, for those not aware, have become something of an internet sensation.  It has become standard for every bloke with a four track in his bedroom to have some kind of web presence. You’ve heard them all – MySpace, YouTube and Facebook are overflowing with chancers who can manage the transition from an E to an A minor on their Argos guitars. Whereas it was once down to John Peel to sift through the piles of rubbish for the nation, the rubbish is now overflowing on the highway.

Islet are different. Until three months ago there was nothing official online. There were a couple of dodgy iPhone videos on YouTube and a whole lot of rumour and discussion. They became an internet sensation by shunning the internet. As it turns out, this wasn’t the anti-internet movement everyone thought it was, but just a desire to do things differently. To do things how they used to be done: play live, release a proper independent vinyl EP and create a buzz. I suspect there was also a little bit of laziness in there too.

The band that steps onto the stage tonight now have a website, and a blog where they seem to be showing off collages they’ve made from flyers they find at every venue they play. They have a proper video on YouTube. Welcome to the 21st century, Islet. Kind of.

The sound that Islet produce tonight in the hugely underrated Georgian Theatre is primal. The noise of four people hammering away on drums stirs something inside – something primitive. You can’t help but be enchanted by the chaos of it all, yet out of the chaos springs a rhythm that you just can’t resist. It seems clear that the band can’t resist either. Right from the outset they are leaping from the stage, tambourines in hand, dancing and squirming with any audience member who is within reach. This is the sight and sound of four people having a good time, and it’s infectious.

The songs are refusing to be classified. There are hints of recognisable sounds in there – a bit of latter day Radiohead here, a snippet of Pink Floyd there – but don’t let that put you off. Before you realise what that sound is, they’ve moved on, and are more than likely beating the hell out of it with eight drumsticks at once. The more controlled moments are held together nicely by ex- Victorian English Gentleman’s Club member, Emma on bass. Yet she’s clearly just as partial to hitting stuff as the rest of the band are.

Islet hold nothing back, and have all the energy of a class of infants who’ve had too many fizzy cola bottles. When they are confining themselves to the stage, they can’t stand still. Everything they do is done with urgency, as if a grown up is likely to turn up any time and confiscate their toys.

There’s not much space in their set for a breather, so they just keep going from beginning to end. It’s exhausting just watching them as they hop, skip and jump, but you can’t help but get swept along with it. The audience are clearly stunned by the band’s opening assault, but it doesn’t take too long to get it. By the end of the set, the audience can’t get enough. Islet, however, had done what they came here to do and that’s it. Everyone leaves happy (apart, perhaps, the unlucky punter who got hit by the flying tambourine!).

The last time I had such a grin on my face after seeing a new band was after the XX, pre- superstardom, about 18 months ago. On the basis of that alone, I’m off to Ladbrookes now to put a tenner on Islet lifting the 2012 Mercury Prize. Let’s just hope that the BBC don’t latch on and spoil them by plastering their music all over trailers, mid-morning programmes about people who have more money than sense at property auctions and in the background of dull drama series! Islet deserve better.




By Chris on October 5, 2010

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2 Comments » RSS Comment Feed

  1. Superb review. Will check them out. All the best Peter.

    Comment by peter — October 5, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

  2. Thanks Peter. Appreciate it. I’ll catch you in a couple of weeks.

    Comment by Chris — October 5, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

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