Kate Boy: Live at XOYO, London

Alternative electro pop trio Kate Boy brought their stamp of underground cool to London’s XOYO on their UK tour and were amazed to find fans all the way from Brazil and Belgium in the front. Such is the magnitude of their reach, all before this Sweden-based band has even released an album.

Kate Boy live

Kate Boy, made up of Australian singer Kate Akhurst and Swedish synth and drumming masters Marcus Dextegen and Hampus Nordgren Hemlin, made waves on the blogosphere with their debut single ‘Self Control‘ a few months ago. At first play, this lot sounds like an edgier and darker version of Icona Pop, but it’s not until you see them perform that you realise this trio is an active live band on stage. Even Kate puts down the mic from time to time to join her band brothers for a stint of passionate drumming.

 

The trio fired their way through their singles ‘Open Fire‘ and ‘Northern Lights’, the latter has racked up over 1.9 million plays on Spotify in just two weeks. Kate’s big vocals and engaging stage presence were only matched by her sweetness when she thanked the crowd in between songs. Future album track ‘Higher’ sounds like an anthem-in-waiting with a sing-along chorus and chants of “We are equal, we are equal!”. There is a distinct 80s groove going on there that slightly counters the darker, modern electronic tones of their singles.

Visually, Kate Boy’s show is more considered and themed than you might expect. The lighting and staging is deliberately minimalistic, keeping with a solid monochromatic palette. The band is consistently only lit from behind so you don’t really get to see their faces, just strong dark silhouettes vibing on stage with white flashing lights in the background.

The subtle costuming (all three members wear a mesh hoodie with solid black stripes throughout) were designed to pop on stage when they are lit from behind. It’s just those little touches and details that make Kate Boy’s show all the more special. Even if it did look a bit repetitive after three or four songs, the band deserves top marks for a consistent presentation that connects their artwork and promo shots through to their live shows.

Kate Boy was supported by Joywave, a synth-rock band from New York, who put up energetic renditions of their latest tunes including the ridiculously catchy single ‘Tongues’. Sonically, their sound is fuller and more in-your-face live than it is on record. Tracks like ‘Somebody New’ is a proper head-banger. All in all, both acts brought youthful and complementary sets that are sure to thrill any fan of melody-driven synth-pop bands.

 

4/5

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