Heading to the Seabright Arms on a chilly December evening, tucked down an ally just off Hackney Road, the anticipation was building nicely along with my expectations of the evening ahead.
For the headline act of the night, Joel Peter, it was their premier visit to the big smoke, and it was a great venue to kick off their journey to the big time. A traditional looking Public House from the upstairs, on descending into the basement you entered an intimate setting, about to be made even more so by the sweet sounds already set to grace the ears of the eager crowd.
The organiser of the night, Elliot Porter, played an acoustic set that warmed up the insides. Whilst a cheeky rendition of WHAM’s ‘Last Christmas’ had you reaching for the mulled wine, if there was any readily available at least.
Elliot’s whit and charm were a very welcome addition to his already accomplished set. As somebody who so clearly has a passion for what he does, we can be very grateful to Elliot for putting together a night, full of such wonderful and eclectic music.
Next on stage were The 150 Friends Club. The name suggests there was plenty of fun to be had, but not much could prepare you for the down right crazy set that they boshed out.
After the subdued yet intimate feel of Elliot Porter, The 150 Friends Club set the night alight. Hailing from the continent, the fast moving riffs and kooky lyrics got every head turning and every set of hips shaking.
The buzz created was enhanced magnificently by Joel Peter and the boys in the midst of it, pumping up the crowd. The 150 Friends Club have that European endowment which gives them an edgy coolness akin to Devendra Banhart, whilst their lampooning lyrics were delivered with a comedic value similar to Flight of the Concords.
The headline act Joel Peter would now have a lot to live up to, but they did nay disappoint. This was who the crowd had come to see and they weren’t going to let them down.
Joel Peters did not have it easy from the start. Sound engineering problems meant this would be a gig where perseverance and professionalism were the order of the day. For an up and coming band, these are the problems they are bound to encounter on the rise to prominence.
They handled the setback superbly. Managing to resonate their soft indie-rock sound through the underground venue, although a little fussy at times their potential was plain to see (and listen) too.
With an impressive repertoire of songs at their disposal already, it was great to hear the venue singing along with Joel. The catchy riffs of their song ‘Wrap Your Ankles’ got everybody moving. Whilst the vocals were on point, the star of the show was Joel’s lead guitarist. Rocking out some genuinely intelligent riffs, he sure did keep you hooked.
The crowd were engaged throughout which made for a bouncy atmosphere. Another stand-out tune was ‘River’ which they nailed. Their sound reminded me of Bombay Bicycle Club and the Foals, the kind of airy indie-rock that has perhaps been on the back burner over the past couple of years, maybe ready to heat up again.
Joel and the boys battled brilliantly through the sound engineering problems, and the headline act of the night ended with a peach. Finishing with their standout tune ‘Chase You Down’, Joel Peter reflected the easy-going and fun-loving nature of the final two acts, ensuring everybody there left on a high.
What really attracts you to Joel Peter is the passion they have for their craft, with energy and youthful exuberance, which, is underlined by the belief that they are really making something good here.
Off on their first European tour early next year, the boys are planning a trip back to the capital sometime next year.
Speaking to the band after gig, they were certainly excited about the prospects of 2015 and on this evidence, they certainly should be.
Words by Theo Andrew