Happyness perform at Live at Leeds 2014.

Happyness/Tamu Massif/Oscar | Gig Review

Happyness, Happyness band, Happyness music, live at leeds, servant's jazz quarters, london, weird little birthday, Oscar, Tamu Massif, album launch - HeadStuff.org
Happyness perform at Live at Leeds 2014.

The sun was still beating down on Dalston as your correspondent approached the Servants Jazz Quarters just before 7.30pm.  I overhear the bouncer turning away three keen underage fans.

Being the epicentre of hipster cool, I sympathise with the guys who must move on elsewhere along the strip yet am impressed by the evident leverage Happyness have attracted on this, their debut album launch.
Servants Jazz Quarters is a compact venue; a whites of the eyes experience was had when Dublin’s own Funeral Suits held court here last year to a sold out crowd. Cavernous with the stage mere inches off the ground; by the time the opening act take the stage SJQ is packed to the rafters (quite literally; beams exposed and resting low).
Tamu Massif begin proceedings with a slow burn-set showcasing songs that conjure Springsteen-esque songwriting by way of King Krule.
Pheromones‘ has shades of Vondelpark in its blissed-out attack; beguiling in its uncertain positivity. It’s the kind of hazy-pop which strives on nostalgic (mis)adventure. Dynamically, live, they at times feel a little spare, especially when you consider the subtle textures on offer in the impressive Soundcloud roster they have accumulated. This is a moot point however, as the audience vibe off their confident display, so it certainly works live. Singer Dave Dixon at times bears an uncanny resemblance to Chris Isaak, with his facial profile, large white Gretsch and summery croon.
They clearly enjoy what they do; great onstage chemistry prevails as set highlight ‘Azora‘ finds its way around the room and claims its place.

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Oscar is a trio consisting of the eponymous Mr. Oscar Scheller and two close compadres (one called Tom, the other’s name I didn’t catch, and if I ventured further into the depths of Facebook I’d question my inquisitiveness a little). 

Purveyors of joyful major-chord pop, Oscar’s work brims with the unrelenting surprise good pop can provide again and again; replenishing and fresh. An evident poptart, Oscar’s songs are delicate yet robust with enough swagger to walk into the room and steal the attention of all the boys and girls. The music is deceptively rudimentary; there is evident craft here as surely it can’t be this easy to produce such earworms, right?
At times I imagine the trio as a male-fronted Elastica, or even of a less sexually tormented Morrissey fronting early Blur; especially in the case of ‘Sometimes‘.
I appreciated the backing drum tracks so much, I couldn’t imagine them with a live human behind, fearing the notion would hamper the synthetic pop approach. They finish their assured set with ‘Heartache‘, reminiscent of ‘Coffee & TV‘ and The Fall’s ‘Touch Sensitive‘.  Oscar’s soul overrides the machine. Echo and the Oscarmen indeed.

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Being a Tuesday night gig, there is a sedate yet mannered intention across the room (work in the morning and school in the case of those lucky enough to get in).
It doesn’t get particularly feverish considering it’s an album launch, but this doesn’t seem to bother Happyness when they take the stage. The, by now, sold-out audience is there for winning over, even if there are family and friends present.
They arrive and kick off with the kind of irreverence more suited to road-worn superstars. And why not? Their songs are befitting of an act used to larger halls. The scope this three-piece conjures does not affect their humility and humour. Acknowledging this is a big night for them, banter is abundant as they navigate the audience through their songs about sex, being shitfaced and wanting to be Arcade Fire’s Win Butler so much you imitate his haircut.
 I’ve been listening to their EP and subsequent releases incessantly so I am biased and this makes me fairly hard to please. I already feel like a purist due to my dismay at the exclusion of EP track Lascascadas, poor little me.
Highlights? Well it all seemed to work seamlessly as their Ash-like injections of Summer like ‘It’s On You‘ kept on giving. ‘Weird Little Birthday Girl’, breezed in and settled amongst us like Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk reimagined by puberty-riddled teens rather than coke-addled adults.
Happyness’ tight set buzzes by in less than an hour, no encore necessary. Job done.

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Weird Little Birthday is out now (review here)
Check out Oscar’s 146b EP; digestible, memorable and immeasurably kind to your ears.