Did you hear that? That was the Shockwaves NME Awards going pop, albeit messily. Don’t worry if you didn’t, listen closer…
That ringing you hear is the skewed scree of Micachu, whose damaged but heartfelt songs take on a disarming tenderness as, next to KOKO’s seemingly vast stage, she appears to be roughly the size of an adult human’s thumb. Using her voice just as effectively as either part of an all-out sonic barrage or a cutely recited confessional, Mica is the perfect foil tonight for Anita Blay, aka thecocknbullkid. Within seconds of taking to the stage she owns it, her band raising merry funk-based hell behind her as she coos and purrs her way through a short set. That she’s a megastar in waiting isn’t in question; how long it takes the rest of the planet to catch up is.
Chairlift, from some small part of New York not worth mentioning, are nothing short of a revelation though. Casting off ‘Bruises’ (you know, the one that advertises some music player no-one’s heard of) midset only makes it feel all the more coy; watching the bewitching Caroline Polachek sweetly trading verses with guitarist Aaron Pfenning like they’re swapping lollipops on a picnic is just gorgeous.
But tonight belongs to Metronomy: Joe Mount only has to remind everyone to shout loud when the house lights go up once as he, Gabriel Stebbing and Oscar Cash chuck out hit after hit almost at will. Whether it’s the crowd singing the synth riff of ‘Holiday’ back at them, a viciously heavy ‘You Could Easily Have Me’ sending KOKO into raptures and even prompting an outbreak of crowdsurfing (no, seriously), or the troupe of dancing girls-slash-performance artists (no, seriously) that joins them for the finale, it’s clear they’re relishing headlining bigger venues. And it’s amazing what a few well-timed strobes and some powerful back-lighting can do – ‘Radio Ladio’, ‘Heartbreaker’ and the fabulous ‘A Thing For Me’ are transformed from danceable ditties into full-blown electro stompers as the trio perform their well-worn but no less entertaining routines involving those now-familiar chest lights.
They could easily have failed this test – headlining over three of contemporary pop’s most exciting talents takes much more than just confidence – but they passed not so much with flying colours as ultra-future neon colours that zip through the air at the speed of light.