Sold out. One can imagine a band would never tire of hearing that, and with only two EPs and a handful of singles under their belt, you can bet that Sundara Karma crack a smile every time they’re told yet another one of their gigs will be full to capacity.
Of course, Birmingham’s Rainbow sold out almost instantly. It’s a nod to the progress of the band in such a short space of time, and a hint that they may need to start looking at taking their shows to bigger venues in the near future.
In a carefully crafted set list, stretching just forty-five minutes, Sundara Karma mix old and new, plucking tracks from their previously released EPs as well as treating the room to some of their latest creations.
Beginning the evening with latest single ‘A Young Understanding,’ the Reading quartet instantly had the darkened Digbeth venue in the palm of their hand, the pogoing crowd of excited adolescents – and a smattering of over thirties, for good measure – ensuring the smiles remained on the faces of the band for the entirety of the night.
From the twinkling of ‘Freshbloom’ to the pulsating beat of ‘Run Away,’ the energy that encapsulates the room is perfectly matched by Oscar Lulu’s sublime performance. Vocal ability is an area that is often forgone during live shows, with bands relying on the verve of the crowd to carry the performance forward. That’s not the case with Sundara Karma. Every song is crisp, polished and perfected: a complete polar opposite to the sweaty carnage unfolding in front of their eyes, as their adoring crowd lap up every lyric, every note; arms aloft and voices loud as they cascade into one another.
And you can tell this means everything to the band. Bassist Dom Cordell can’t help but glimpse up at every opportunity, smiling out at the fans who have flocked to see a mighty performance from one of 2016’s finest prospects.
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The love in the room is abundantly clear, the dancing and singing not faltering even slightly when the band air their fresh, unheard tracks. ‘Olympia,’ one of their new offerings, showcases Sundara Karma’s perfect lyrical ability, as well as containing a fine drop for the audience to lose their minds to, especially when the song moves straight into the darker ‘Flame,’ one of the band’s first releases and a clear crowd favourite.
Introducing another new number, ‘She Said,’ Oscar addresses his crowd: “You won’t know it, but just dance and shit.” It gets off to a shaky start as he misses his cue, “Awful, fucking awful,” he grins, “we’ll try that again,” and when they finally get going, we’re treated to the perfect mix of heavy, pounding drums and fast-paced lyrics, creating a gorgeous summer anthem. The crowd needed no encouragement to dance to this one.
‘The Night’ follows, with importance yet again placed upon the superbly strong vocal ability of the band’s frontman. Indeed, you can have good songs that your crowd lap up at every live show, but what makes a great song and a great band is possessing the type of talent that Sundara Karma ooze throughout the night.
As the evening draws to a close, Oscar has his final say: “If we can do this for the rest of our lives, we’ll be happy,” he beams, “look after each other, be happy.” And with that poignant message, the band fly into set closer ‘Loveblood.’ The biggest gem in their growing collection, with a chorus that fills the entire room, but one which could quite easily stretch to venues much bigger than this. After seeing Sundara Karma, you can be in no doubt that, one day soon, they will be gracing greater stages.
This Sundara Karma article was written by Natalie Whitehouse, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.