Dirrrty Pop Review: UTIOG & The Sounds Live

(UTIOG = Under The Influence Of Giants, in case you were wondering)

I wasn’t immensely excited about The Sounds’ gig when I booked it a few months ago, but I never miss a chance to see a Swedish pop group. At the time I expected a low-key affair, mostly Swedes out to support their fellow countrymen and woman, but then in the weeks approaching the gig, the group received high praise from NME, Popjustice and many more, and released their new album which even earned itself a place right at the front of my local Fopp music store, which anyone who has ever been in one will know is the coolest record store around (kind of indie yet extremely shiny and cheap). This all meant that the venue was completely packed and the only Swedish accent I heard was Maja’s, which is in fact quite a hilarious accent cos she kinda speaks like she sings (not very ladylike!).

When I heard the name of the support act (above) it sounded familiar, but I didn’t realise where from until I went on their MySpace. It was a band I’d heard of through #1 Hits on Another Planet, and I’d loved what I’d heard but never researched any further – I soon regretted that when I listened to more of their songs and they were all brilliant (I ordered their CD from Amazon literally minutes after Googling them – definitely my quickest Google to purchase ever), so I stuck 4 of them on my mp3 player and spent the remaining 2 days til the gig listening to them on repeat. By the time the gig came around, I was quite obsessed and very very excited to hear 3 of the 4 songs I knew. The other tracks sounded great as well, and I can’t wait now to get the CD. I think they have a huge chance of being successful in the UK – I hesitate to say it but the comparison that comes to mind is ‘this year’s Orson’, the difference being that UTIOG are actually amazingly ace, not dull and poo like Orson.

Now, onto the main event – The Sounds! My most exciting moment was finding a blue and yellow t-shirt with The Sounds on the front and ‘SWEDEN’ on the back, but this was closely followed by the ace music they played. About half the songs on the setlist were from the new album, the other half being from their first album, which was released in 2002. The newer tracks are the poppier and best, in my opinion, but I was equally excited to hear the classic Living In America. My favourites of the night were Painted By Numbers, Song With A Mission, Tony The Beat and Hurt You, which are all amazing on the CD too.

The visual performance was as great as the music, as despite the lack of special effects, Maja and her boys showed what can be done with Swedish hotness (the boys are all rather attractive) and stage presence. Maja looked like some kind of alternative Barbie doll – she is perfectly thin and blonde, yet wearing tiny hot pants with a denim jacket, the side of her hair shaved off, swearing like only a fierce young Swedish woman can, adorned with tattoos, stage diving at every chance and smoking and drinking constantly throughout the gig. At one point she actually threw her cigarette into the crowd, which was a bit dangerous but certainly helped make this the most rock’n’roll concert experience I’ve ever had! Not that it’s hard, when your favourite singer is Darren Hayes, but still I’ve been to way more gigs than most 19 year olds and I can’t say I’ve seen many singers rule the stage like Miss Ivarsson did.

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