When, at half 7 one weekday evening, myself, my fellow music sub-editor Toby and his friend Harriet showed up at a fairly average student house in West Jesmond, we entered into what felt like a fairly standard pres. Of course, this wasn’t the case; it was a pop up gig for indie-pop trio Outlya; newcomers who have already seen their fair share of the festival circuit, and had set out on a sort of ‘pre-tour tour’ to drum up support for their debut round of headline shows.
Re-purposing the living room as a venue, their set up was simple but effective – an acoustic guitar, a floor tom, a mini battery-powered keyboard and a shaker egg (bassist Willem Olenski had been demoted to band photographer for the night). Fairy lights adorning the living room and the band’s logo on a TV were the most high tech element of the show.
“We basically pinched the whole idea from those Sofar Sounds gigs” said lead vocalist and guitarist Will Bloomfield, when I caught up with him after the set. “We just wanted to do something like that; do things on the fly using people’s rooms or any kind of space that was possible.”
The Courier Music watches OUTLYA perform a pop-up gig in a West Jesmond house ahead of their headline Newcastle show on the 17th March.
Posted by The Courier Music on Saturday, 24 February 2018
The 15 or so people in the audience made for an intimate vibe, perfectly suiting the stripped-back aesthetic of the show. It was clear that Outlya thrived in these conditions, the duo nailing tight vocal harmonies and letting Bloomfield’s rhythmic guitar style speak for itself.
The band weren’t afraid to ask for some audience interaction, getting the room singing along at various moments. Certainly a risky move for any act trying to establish themselves, but one that paid off, with the crowd gladly complying.
Indeed, many of Outlya’s anthemic choruses would have been tough not to sing along to, for instance the infectious single ‘Volcano’. “That was one of the rowdier [living room shows] we’ve done definitely” observed Bloomfield; “everyone was attentive and willing to sing, which can really change from venue to venue.”
At one point Marina – an old friend of the band (who had incidentally offered up her living room as the venue) – was invited to fill in on drums, in a reshuffle that saw Kiliminster take to the guitar and drummer Henry Bloomfield the keyboard. Admittedly, her role was mostly just to keep time but she did an admirable job nonetheless.
This did leave me curios as to how many people had come along on their own accord. “There was a few local fans, and then Marina roped in some of her friends, though that’s the whole point of these gigs – to drum up as much support as possible. We have a small contingent in every city, and this is just a way of expanding that and giving those people a little free gig as well; it’s a bit ramshackle but it’s fun!”
This feeling was definitely mutual; with such a relaxed, friendly vibe, the whole experience made me wonder why more bands don’t do the same.
For anyone interested in their actual Newcastle show, it is taking place at Little Buildings on Saturday Mach 17th, with support from Twist Helix and Tin Pigeons. Though get on it quickly; their London date has already sold out, and it looks like this one may go the same way!