Just Mustard – Oakford Social Club, Reading – 15/1/2020

Just Mustard – Oakford Social Club, Reading – 15/1/2020


January in Reading. I have returned. Not quite the scene of the infamous last gig round the corner at Sub89, where the cunts and the loose of lip couldn’t contain themselves. No, this is a far more insular affair.

This is the Oakford Social Club. Part bar, part fried chicken shack, part venue. A schizophrenic home of the hipster and poultry lover alike.

An odd venue for a band that is on the rise. That has crossed the ferry that carried Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital from the Emerald Isle to seek their fortune.

From LP to live stage is not a natural progression. If Just Mustard are at home performing and they haven’t quite captured the sound on record then their time will come. Whilst their LP Wednesday is engaging, live they break into a beast that apparently can’t be tamed.

So often that is the struggle, and how often bands fall because of the unreasonable weight placed upon them.

Life on the road is not how it once was, it is now essential to make ends meet, and whilst bands can hone their sound live, trying to make an approximation on record is strenuous.

Treading the crevice of trip hop legends Portishead and criss-crossing their way via Zero 7 and Shoegaze stalwarts Slowdive with a nod to My Bloody Valentine, they coerce people into their web. Volume is the key. As the latter band prescribed to, ear-splitting noise in a psychedelic haze but it leaves you not so much staring at the floor but gazing at the ceiling and trying to break through the roof.

There is a beautiful repetitive drone quality to them, Katie Ball’s vocals are often an instrument, making an accompanying noise rather than a lyric, the frequency of her range at odds but syncopated with the reverb heavy guitars with rumbling bass creating a dark sense of dread. But in the best possible way.

Without condoning or encouraging such practices, Just Mustard are best experienced under the influence of an intoxicant. Alcohol worked very well but others are available. Feel free to experiment. Just don’t blame me.

There is something of a euphoria the concoction of dream like music and the stimulant coursing through you brain and nerve endings creates. Trance like state befalls you and the stark blue lighting creates silhouettes. They are also a band for the dark, daylight would pierce them like the dawn through a vampire. Katie has translucent pale skin like alabaster and raven black as midnight hair that perhaps is where their goth tag begins but it also ends. There’s nothing industrial or miserable about them, although stage patter is at a premium, there is classic moodiness that borders shyness but is a few acres away in concentration.

Just Mustard are continuing the seemingly relentless march of the Irish across the indie landscape, never aping their peers, one is substantially different to the next but similarly brooding and intense.

Lucky us.

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