My first experience of Band of Skulls was on the radio in the car during my morning drive to work.
‘Hoochie Coochie’ came on and there I was, speakers blazing and drumming along on my steering wheel wondering who the heck these guys were. I seemed to forget this first meeting until recently, when I was asked to review one of their gigs and finally put a name to their music.
The trio from Southhampton played at the cosy Oxford Art Factory last Thursday to a crowd eager to
latch onto their unique but familiar sound. The set consisted of dark, alluring guitar riffs coupled with catchy melodies which had the entire venue doing a sexy sway.
Russell Marsden, Emma Richardson and Matt Hayward are no newcomers to the scene. Having
released three albums, with “Himalayan” being their third, they’ve been featured at festivals like SXSW and Glastonbury, and have also supported big name acts such as Muse and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. We see this in the confidence they exude as they make their way on stage.
Dressed all in black and with an air of nonchalance, there were rare bouts of muffled words of
conversation uttered mainly by Russell, but all in all, the band let the music do the talking.
Their brand of sound stems from the same branch as that of Queens of the Stone Age and the Arctic
Monkeys, with a garage rock feel infused with blues. Emma’s vocals, which occasionally mimic but
also answer those of Russell’s in lyrical conversation – especially in ‘I Know What I Am’ – are hauntingly edgy and are a stand-out in the performance.
The set list was extensive and covered big tracks from each of their albums. There was a huge rock out to ‘Hollywood Bowl’ and all the new songs off “Himalayan” were met with the enthusiasm of school children on an excursion to Wonderland (Remember that place?!). Even after the encore, I wanted to join the drunk bloke next to me who kept yelling and insisting on another song.
If you are looking for something with an infectiously dark attitude to add to your playlist, this outfit is one you definitely need to check out.
*Words and photography by Helene Ly.