You know it’s going to be a memorable gig when the band you’re going to see has already been in The NME that day.
In the early afternoon, indie-pop four-piece The Big Moon had already made headlines choosing not to sell any merchandise at the venue, instead choosing to sell it at a local boozer instead. On an Instagram story, the band explained “The Kentish Town Forum, like many other 02 venues, takes 25% plus VAT on every sale we make - this is basically all of our profit on merch”. Is this a fascinating subplot or a subtle reference to the band’s DIY ethic, or an elaborate ploy for me to build an atmosphere and sense of anticipation? Probably the former, certainly merged with the latter, but interesting nonetheless.
Despite two albums, exciting slots supporting the likes of the Pixies and The Maccabees and main stage appearances at the UK’s biggest festivals, it seems as if the Big Moon are yet to truly spark, stuck in a void of indie-pop obscurity. Despite the beautiful intimacy and buzz of the Kentish Town Forum, it is certainly not the 3.000-strong Brixton Academy, the apparent promised land for an outfit like the themselves. With this in mind, as well as a fairly concrete understanding of their big hits and new material, I was excited to see whether this glowing ember of a band could catch alight.
Inevitably, I loved it. With all four band members on vocals, the vocal effect is like very little I’ve ever heard before, giving the set the warmth of karaoke but the quality of a chamber quartet. Lead singer-songwriter Juliette Jackson (a name with which musical success is almost predestined) has a remarkable ability to articulate the profound in simplicity. For example, in her moving odes to new motherhood, Jackson states “nothing’s changed, nothing has stayed the same”. I’ll be brief at the risk of going full-GCSE-English-teacher, but there’s something beautiful in the effortlessness of describing the unique complexities of becoming a parent.
It’s hard to pigeon-hole The Big Moon into a genre or box. Whilst some tracks have the pop-folk feel akin to the likes of Taylor Swift or Lizzy Mcalpine, there is a touch of Foals and Wolf Alice in the driving guitars and bouncy drum fills. This variety keeps your eyes on the stage rather than the overpriced lager on tap, one of the greatest challenges for a band of The Big Moon’s size. In fact, in between songs, there was certainly a din of chatter- perhaps caused by the parents or partners who had been dragged along.
If the first hour of the set hadn’t converted them to The Big Moon, the last three songs and encore were a fantastic showreel of what the band can achieve, sending the audience through the looking-glass of what this four-piece could emerge into given a bit of luck. The band’s famous indie-rock cover of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You”, a cover which has inspired numerous other up-and-coming bands (my band) to end their set in a similar vein, brought on a sense of catharsis from the excitable die-hards at the barrier to the Radio Six dads at the back. Ending with breakout hit “Your Light”, The Big Moon proved that they can set the indie scene alight.