As Ought unleashed their sound onto the Deaf Institute on a blue skied evening, Getintothis Joe Woodhouse wasn’t afraid to dance.
When you listen to an album you typically envision how a band looks and acts. It can be hard to shake this imaginary visualisation out of your mind, and it can come as quite a shock when you finally see the band in action, and they don’t quite fit the picture. Thankfully Ought is one band that fits their sound perfectly, and it’s an important aspect of why they are such an experience on the live circuit, as we found out at The Deaf Institute in Manchester.
When seeing the band come on stage, you may consider them slightly on the awkward side. There is no overconfidence in how they handle themselves, and the lead guitarist and singer, Tim Darcy, points his finger to the crowd loosely as he sings, and it wouldn’t make sense any other way. The faces match the record, the movements match the words. This is anxiety fueled music, you don’t expect swagger.
The music of Ought is of the noise rock variety, but there is a real freshness to the sound thanks to the Talking Heads style narration which pops up in-between the noise, and the album sounds even more energised and on the verge of collapse live. Soundscapes fill in the gaps between tracks, and Tim Darcy played to the point of breaking the thinnest guitar string twice, and these moments of melting noise helped bridge the mistakes, which were all part of the ideal that is Ought.
The music was a mix of album one and two, the latter not due ’til a few weeks after the show (September 18 to be exact). New music can be hard to place when played live, especially when the album hasn’t hit the shelves, but the new stuff fits in with the old, with a more drone like quality.
And not the bad type of drone, more the Low type; drone not drones. Record stores have whole sections dedicated to drone music, and it’s the sort of noise that drowns your mind, but you don’t care much for swimming up for air.
Recent single Beautiful Blue Sky is the real highlight, showing that the new material certainly holds up to the old, in this case exceeds thanks to the repetition you could lose yourself to, along with the anxiety driven lyrics. It’s a beautiful combination, it’s a beautiful blue sky.
Ought aren’t flashy, but a true connection is made between sound and body. A light show would only cloud what’s already there. And there was an intense bout of energy throughout, especially at the end when Darcy gave his guitar up to Rachel Aggs of Shopping (or gave it back to, as Darcy borrowed it after his string malfunctions), freeing him up to dance with Jack Skellington like leg movements and true abandon. It was a release, a true explosion, and it’s just how you’d picture it. Anything less would be a lie.