The first night of any tour sets the bar for the rest of it – so naturally, it’s important to get things right. Based on the reaction of the lively crowd at a bustling O2 Academy2 in Oxford on Tuesday night (April 22), Young Kato most definitely got things right. Backed up by tour-mates Pixel Fix and local band Stroke of Luck, the indie-pop six-piece set the bar for the rest of their dates across the UK and Ireland.
Unfortunate timing and forgotten tickets meant that we missed the opening set from Oxford’s own Stroke of Luck. After a listen of the alt-rock quintet’s eponymous début EP, released at the end of last year, the disappointment of not seeing the opening performance set in – their sound combines the soulful vocals of lead vocalist Steve Knight with an alternative sound clearly influenced by bands ranging from The Clash to Tribes and Bastille – an act who they have supported in the past. All in all, not bad for a currently unsigned band. Each night on tour a different act is joining the two touring bands, creating a unique and in this case, localised line-up.
Following a brief intermission, another Oxford-based band, Pixel Fix took to the stage to build things up to another level. Making waves with their self-titled début from last year and their follow-up ‘Fall EP‘, the hype currently surrounding this band is well justified. With festival appearances planned for this year, there’s a good chance that you’ll catch them at some point.
When I try and describe artists to my friends, I tend to describe their sound by crossing familiar artists with other artists. In the case of Pixel Fix, I tentatively described their sound as a ”cross between Chet Faker and Two Door Cinema Club”, combining the indie enthusiasm of the Northern Irish trio with the dark, electronic skill of the Australian. Their half-hour set included fan favourites ‘Rosa’ and ‘Fall’ and seemed to be well received from the crowd that were trickling in. Did I mention they’re only 18-19 years old? Their refined sound is much more impressive taking their age into account, all the while building momentum for the headline act.
Young Kato hit the stage just after 9.15 and quickly opened with early track ‘Revolution’. The six-piece from up the road fall into the same bracket as other indie-pop artists Coasts, Little Comets and Swim Deep and their youthful and exuberant sound pushes all the right buttons for my musical mind. The band, who themselves stated that their objective is to “make music and get sweaty on stage“, rapidly moving into new track ‘Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’, a synth-filled sound that provides variety to their sound and is currently being considered for their next single.
Their set continued with tracks across their EPs and singles, including a special stripped down one-night-only version of ‘Life’s Good’ and their cover of Boy Meets Girl’s ‘Waiting For A Star To Fall’ alongside newer material in the form of new single ‘Help Yourself’ and free download ‘Ignite’ before rounding off their set with firm favourite and most well known single ‘Drink Dance Play’, which raised the roof on the venue, bringing their set to an end.
A brief break and all three bands re-emerged to meet fans, sign tickets and take pictures. I managed to have a quick chat with the band, and they are some of the most humble, excitable lads you will ever meet who are overjoyed with the opportunity to do something they clearly love. Their enthusiasm is so infectious and that transfers to their live show in the best possible way. Their album should drop later on this year – now would be a good time to fall in love with these guys.
Ollie Salter | @ollie_salter_