Sundara Karma – The Haunt – 29th September 2016

A sure fire sign that a gig crowd will be young is a bouncer handing you a wristband to facilitate alcohol identification. Entering The Haunt, a striking chromatic wave of youthful exuberance proved this to be true for the final show of Sundara Karma’s UK tour. Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect is the name given to their soon-to-be-released debut album and it was as if the Brighton fans were trying their utmost to show the phrase to be incorrect. They did so with joyous sing-alongs and thunderous dancing in a tumultuous couple of hours.

For a band who have yet to release an LP, they have already built up a sustained and devoted following. Granted the budget of the band’s label Chess Club may have helped ignite the buzz of the four-piece, but they have an alarmingly good stage presence as well as a back catalogue of half a dozen terrific live compositions; a rarity for a band still in its infancy.

Channelling the androgynous inclinations of early Suede, the sense of fun is reflected in the teenagers’ infectious pop hooks that carry weight and variance when placed into a live setting. The media has attempted to place them within the indie pop scene featuring the likes of Jaws, Peace (whose members were in attendance for this show) and Super Food. But despite maintaining facets from each, Sundara Karma carry more of a defining anthemic nature within their songs. ‘Olympia’ is essentially a ramped-up version of the Bruce Springsteen classic ‘I’m on Fire’, whilst ‘The Night’ wouldn’t look out of place on Arcade Fire’s most recent album Reflektor.

‘Freshbloom’ proves to be an infectious jam for the crowd, while ‘A Young Understanding’ has a vivid potency which is truly realised within this environment. Frontman Oscar Lulu’s vocals in ‘Vivienne’ also show vocal maturity beyond his 18 years. The daring but inevitably fruitful choice of covering Luther Vandross's ‘Never Too Much’ then proves to be a worthwhile risk before ‘Flame’ reignites the loyal mass into a cacophony of vocal attempts. The euphoric ‘Loveblood’ concludes proceeding in its dramatic nature.

Sundara Karma’s brand of infectious anthemia is anything but insular and you expect the Reading collective's trajectory and visible ambition to propel them to much larger venues once the album is released.
Paul Hill