This Ought article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor
The Hare and Hounds might be the perfect venue for an ear-piercing rock show – the main gig rooms are a terrific size for that so-loved feeling of intimacy, not too big, not too small, with enough space to move around, dance around or headbang, whichever is your preference. This all makes for an nice atmosphere and sets the stage well for Montreal post-punk outfit, Ought. Ought captivated me and many others with their 2014 album ‘More Than Any Other Day’ with its aggressive, raw instrumentation and quirky lyrics and vocals. And so I went into this show expecting that same combination of aggression and quirkiness but in a less-controlled, no-holds-barred manner, and Ought delivered! But they’re not the only band that delivered…
First up were Health & Efficiency, an experimental rock band that used a very varied supply of instruments, even busting out a melodica at one point. Seeing these guys live made me very curious as to how they sound on recordings, you could tell that they put a tremendous amount of creative effort into their music and their sound in general. They were very impressive, with beautifully layered soundscapes that worked well for both their balladry and their grittier rock numbers. The second support act were Shopping, who were incredibly entertaining throughout their half-hour set. There was not one boring moment when they were on stage, thanks to their kooky, energetic guitar hooks and pure punky vocals – it seemed a lot of people in the audience were either thrilled or surprised or both. They also seemed right at home on stage, with unusual movements and ska-esque dancing, the band constantly brought a smile to my face. It’s amazing when support acts contribute so much to the atmosphere and the overall quality of a show, and both bands did just that, so check them out!
Ought then took the stage for their first ever Birmingham show. The majority of heads in the audience immediately started moving up and down as they opened with ‘Pleasant Heart’, the opening track from ‘More Than Any Other Day’, and even more people were pleased with the instant transition into fan favourite ‘The Weather Song’, which proved to be a very danceable song when played live, and adding even more entertainment was lead singer and guitarist Tim Darcy’s animated vocal delivery and on-stage mannerisms, ranging from hyperactive dancing to conductor-like hand movements. They also played ‘Today More Than Any Other Day’, another crowd favourite which sounds even more intense live than it does on the album version; the song’s unconventional slow-burner structure translates well when played live. Also present in the set were tracks from the band’s upcoming sophomore full-length ‘Sun Coming Down, which is available on September 18th. Some of the new songs are sounding great, and it seems like they’re sticking to the stylistic approach that made their previous album so enjoyable. The song ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’ was a real highlight, as more people in the crowd seemed to be even more captivated than they were by the already-popular songs that they played; it was another lengthy one, well-structured with a thrilling climax. Closing the set was ‘Gemini’, the ending track from their last album. It’s such a brutal, psychotic song, and such an impactful closer, and it was also quite amusing to hear Darcy repeatedly and violently shout out the word “wanted” at the end of the song, and then suddenly say “thank you so much for coming” in his sweet, sincere talking voice.
This was Ought’s penultimate show in the UK portion of their tour, but I urge anyone who is a fan of raw rock music to watch them play live when possible. It was a fun night all-round, thanks to a great environment, fantastic support bands, and an immaculate, furious-yet-focussed set from Ought. Their diverse, melodic noise style translates so well from the studio to a live show. My ears are ringing.