It’s been a minute since our last One Way Or Another gig - presented in partnership with the good folks at Parallel Lines - but, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Back at the end of last year, we welcomed the likes of The Itch and Cosmorat to two of the capital’s hidden gem venues, and this week saw that trend continue with a turn at Soho’s The Social.
Kicking things off is Al Costelloe - having been one half of indie duo Big Deal and played with Superfood as their live bassist, she’s no stranger to a stage, and graces this one alongside two band members she lovingly refers to as “some men”. Though her lead guitarist is unfortunately AWOL, she nevertheless delivers a set that’s equal parts delicate and determined, recalling the velveteen vocals and emotional heft of ‘Crushing’-era Julia Jacklin. It proves a good opportunity to road-test some unreleased material destined for her next project, before Al sees herself out with the choice one-two of debut EP title track ‘So Neurotic’ (a relatable rumination on inherited angst) and ‘Badmouth’, a satisfying yet subtle middle finger to a bitter ex.
Stripping things back even further to just a bass and an amped up acoustic guitar, SOMOH is next to enchant the swelling crowd with what she tells us is actually her first live show in a while. Not that you can tell; she swaps between lighthearted onstage patter (“does anyone in the room have mummy issues?”) and tender balladry with ease, with the recent cut ‘Man’ - inspired by the sight of a straight couple holding hands on the tube - proving a particular highlight. Without the backing of a full band, her brand of boygenius-adjacent confessional indie has nowhere to hide, but it doesn’t need to - instead, it simply makes the enclosed subterranean space feel even more intimate.
For the night’s final third, Manchester quartet cruush offer up a mesmeric concoction of shimmering guitar lines and pedal-adorned bass, merging the richly layered shoegaze soundscapes of Slowdive with Ellie Rowsell’s feather-light vocal touch. The captivated audience are treated to renditions of recent singles ‘Headspace’ and ‘As She Grows’ - both already fan favourites, it seems - as well as previews of what to expect from the band’s forthcoming second EP ‘Nice Things Now, All The Time’ (due to arrive in April). Closing with one such unreleased cut, ‘Cotton Wool’, cruush hold us in the palm of their hand until the very last hint of reverb has faded and we’re forced to return to our senses, as if waking from a collective dream.