Futures / Don Broco / Natives @ XOYO

By Tom Aylott


We have our fair share of ups and downs with the sound and atmosphere at XOYO. For punk shows in the past it’s felt a little stale (and the beer is pretty terrible), but Motion City Soundtrack was great not so long ago, and judging from opener Natives’ [7] sound and the crowd today, it shouldn’t cause an issue. Not Advised became Natives not too long ago, and though they’re only one in a spate of bands changing names to “start afresh”, it’s still always a bit odd watching the same band playing new songs under a new moniker. There’s certainly no denying that the band feel like a refined unit, but it does all feel like a bit of step backwards tonight – not in terms of quality so much as playing at 8.10 to an audience that isn’t quite sure what they’re in for. Regardless, they go down well, and there’s plenty of promise in the new material – it’s all very much like they’re just getting warmed up at the moment, and it’ll be great to see them get settled with the new name and slightly poppier sound.

Next up, one of 2012’s hottest properties take to the stage. It’s hard to believe the strides Don Broco [9] are taking, and it eventually transpires that they generate the biggest crowd reaction of the night. The bravado and reactions grow in sync with the nice words said about their forthcoming album, and it’ll surprise no-one when the band headline venues bigger than this next time next year. Frontman Rob Damiani seems to go from strength to strength at commanding a crowd, and the band really seem to have found their feet. The setlist is largely similar to the way it has been over the last few months, but with latest single ‘Priorities’, ‘Beautiful Morning’ and ‘Thug Workout’ spanning the band’s fairly modest catalogue entirely, there’s something here for everyone, and it’s smiles all around in the East London basement by the time they leave the stage.

To bring a rather enjoyable evening to a close are tonight’s headliners, Futures. Newly released from their major label recording contract and riding on their self-released ‘Karma Album’, the band seem as positive as they did a few years ago, despite the fact that they’ve had more than a few knocks since the acclaimed release of debut EP, ‘The Holiday’. Tracks from that particular release go down best tonight (as is to be expected) but it’s the new material that really raises the question “why aren’t this band playing bigger venues by now?”. If there’s one thing for sure it’s that it’s not their fault and they’re always happy to be playing to full room, it just feels a little like they’ve been let down. Their main support from a not-much-smaller headlining tour a year ago is a band that’s booked in to headline the Electric Ballroom later in the year, and Futures are a band that write music designed for the bigger stages. That said, there’s a great atmosphere in XOYO this evening, and we can only hope that the album’s release gives them a springboard to their deserved place in London’s loftier venues.