Live Review: Ellwood, Electric River, My Third Leg

08/12 at the O2 islington academy 2

Once getting past the confusion of being told by the doorman that Electric Six were in fact playing on Thursday night, not Ellwood, then being directed instead after a heart-stopping moment up to the first floor O2 Islington Academy 2 venue, it was extremely easy to enjoy a night of ska-infused music.

It’s often hit and miss with support bands, but neither My Third Leg nor Electric River disappointed the early crowd with their thirty minute sets. The former were an enthusiastic four-piece ska/punk band from Dartford, Kent and they kicked off proceedings with some bouncy bass lines and catchy guitar work. They were followed by Electric River, who’s feel-good “punky rock n roll” style was extremely easy on the ear, with a vocals not dissimilar to Alex Band of The Calling, and did a great job at getting the crowd moving before the headline act.

Ellwood was created by the frontman of ska/punk favourites, the Mad Caddies, and lead vocalist Chuck, along with fellow Caddies Dustin, Graham and Todd have put together a chilled-out, mellow, reggae-infused ska album, Lost In Transition, which was released on the Fat Wreck Chords label in the summer. Keen to ignore the sopping wet English weather, Ellwood effortlessly entertained the small venue with some gloriously sunny Californian-sounding tracks from their debut release. Songs Amsterdam Ray, Walking Away and Don’t Look Back demonstrated the guys’ mastery of the slow and light hearted reggae sound, a far cry from some of the more frenetic ska/punk efforts more closely associated with the past 14 years of Caddies releases.

Other tunes employed faster but still controlled bass lines and up-stroke guitar chords. Tracks including The Deal, Wrong Night, Dancin’ Girl and Mag Girl were slightly more akin to the Caddies of old, but the band members are clearly enjoying the more relaxed side of a musical range that has previously seen them experiment with skacore, Spanish, cowpunk and pirate-themed sounds. Listen to The Deal, below:

From a Caddies fan’s point of view, one notable absence was the brass section that accompanies the golden-voiced Chuck so well in previous projects. But Ellwood weren’t naïve enough to think that they can get by on their current release alone, and nor did they want to. They happily played Backyard, along with one or two other more soulful Caddies tracks with consummate ease to the delight of the band’s old faithful. They also played a couple of covers of other bands songs, including a great acoustic rendition of Surf Wax America by Weezer.

For the princely sum of £8, to see a well-established headline act (albeit under an alternative title) was an absolute steal for an O2 venue in London. All of the bands were engaging and did their best to interact with the crowd, played a decent number of songs and were steadfastly enthusiastic despite a wet and dreary Thursday night. No better way to spend it than attending a warm, chilled out Californian ska-band, experimenting with new sounds for under a tenner. Ideal.

For a free mp3 of Mag Girl by Ellwood and to find out more about Fat Wreck Chords, click Here.