Live Review: Select Music 7th Birthday - Oxford Art Gallery, The Standard, Upstairs Beresford

26 June 2012 | 3:45 pm | Jessie Hunt

More Bluejuice More Bluejuice

The sheer number of bands Select Music brought together for its seventh birthday celebrations was incredibly impressive – nearly 30 bands, four stages, five hours. In theory, this made for the best one-night festival imaginable; in practice, it was a night that involved endless walks between The Standard, the Beresford and Oxford Art Factory, as well as a constant, nagging feeling that you were missing out on something.

Emma Louise played a gloriously stripped-back set at the Oxford Art Factory. Performing on acoustic guitar and with keyboard/backing vocalist accompanist, each track was full of delicate, angelic harmonies and carefully arranged guitar and keyboard lines. Her opening track was a neat little acoustic number that gave way to a gritty keyboard rhythm. Set closer, Jungle, was magnificent – the pair were unable to rely on the enormous rhythm section to build intensity and instead built tension through low keys and vocal harmonies.

Argentina aka Alex Ritchie has a cocktail of things going on onstage at the Oxford Art Factory Gallery. Sure, his synthesised rhythms and multi-layered melodies make some of the tracks sound a little weak, but several tracks have gritty, intense vocals – particularly Chalk Outlines. The sheer intensity of his performance is impressive; his music is capable of creating strange, dark moods. His music is also incredibly well-produced, with melodies and rhythms sounding clear and precise. It's a cut above more typical, synthesised indie pop.

Millions are making some impressive sounds at present and as a result, they attracted a decent little crowd to the OAF Gallery stage. Millions are adept at making these golden little indie rock numbers full of catchy hooks and boisterous guitar lines. There were a few issues with sound distortion however, but the tracks came out quite well regardless. Millions' lyrics toe the line between hilarious and insightful: “Some day we'll all be separated/And I think that'll be just fine”. They do a sublime job of dispersing catchy, buzz-pop choruses through well-written verses.

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Step-Panther play good, honest, straight-up rock'n'roll, which they did at The Standard. There is something incredibly effortless about the music they create – laidback, carelessly throwing lyrics and instrumentals together. And yet they've struck gold. They seem to take these lovingly trashy, distorted garage rock bass and guitar lines and strip them back; purify them. The energy and enthusiasm of their live sets is simply indescribable.

The Jungle Giants put on a fantastic show at The Standard. Their percussion and themes have a little in common with Jinja Safari, but they've thrown it all over classic indie pop guitar lines. They're wild and excitable and the audience sang their sweet choruses as loudly as the band. This band's popularity is exceedingly well deserved.

After a busy run of festivals and tours, Hungry Kids Of Hungary have been fairly quiet over the past few months. Nonetheless, the band had a dedicated following waiting for them when they took to the Beresford stage. The sheer joy the band seems to derive from playing for an audience – the small smiles they share, their energy and their down-to-earth, genuine stage manner – is priceless. They played a well-selected batch of tracks from their 2010 album, as well as preceding EPs, with the audience shouting lyrics back to them on singles like Scattered Diamonds, Wristwatch and Coming Around.

It would be difficult to find, amongst the whiskey, water and Jake Stone sweat-drenched crowd, a patron who didn't think Stone and Stavros Yiannoukas were ridiculously good showmen. Bluejuice's wild onstage high jinks have become excessively popular and Thursday night's performances of enormous hits like Vitriol, Facelift and Act Yr Age were no exception. Their tracks are well written, with a heavy enough bass line to get punters dancing and with hilariously funny, devil-may-care lyrics that keep the party going. The only problem is that there are only so many times you can watch Stone nearly strangle someone with a microphone lead, or down shots on stage, or lick the face of some lucky audience member. Bluejuice are, essentially, playing the same show they were playing two years ago.

The Select Music birthday gig was a collection of performances from astounding artists. As with any event with a lineup that's just too good to be true, it was impossibly hard to get your fill of the night's talent.