True believers in the DIY ethic, Spring Offensive know how to transform a venue. St Barnabas becomes a gothic haven of books and light boxes, and whilst I am fractionally unnerved by the 5 foot heavyweight crucifix which hangs above their head for the duration of the set, I cannot deny that this fuses with their intense sound to create a near perfect gig. Although it’s always been Lucas’ vocals and the band’s creative lyrics which have drawn me, tonight it’s their intricate musical harmonies and energy which carries the set.
As they slowly take their way to the stage, one by one, layering instruments as they go, it’s clear they’ve left no detail to chance, with each moment of the set almost almost as pedantic as their music. Nevertheless this doesn’t lead to the rehearsed vibe you’d expect and as the fusebox blows towards the end of Ridgefield, though it prevents their climax at the end of the song, it highlights their ability to create an impromptu ending, which doesn’t detract from the moment. As they roam around the stage, weaving their harmonies throughout each song it’s clear Spring Offensive have grown with time, moving away from the more apprehensive band I saw a while back, into a confident 5 piece who fuse folk-rock, with math-pop to create and inventive and contagious sound.
I can’t help but feel Spring Offensive sometimes drift into a predictable formula; a more downbeat start which blends and fuses their instruments, culminating each song with a stadium rock style ending. Still, tonight they seem determined to bring diversity and as they drift into the crowd for a unplugged rendition of Carrier and invite the audience to sing along in To Burn Or Build With it falls away from this pattern, bring breadth to the set. Whilst Every Coin fails to make it’s way into the evening, Worry Fill My Heart and A Stutter And A Start with their infectious lyrics, fit for a doomed youth more, than fill the void.
With hand picked support in the form of the Liverpool based All We Are and Stornoway offshoot Count Drachma, and a selection of food and drink from Oxfork, it’s an organic evening which showcases the creativity of the Oxford area. No surprises really then, that at the end of the night I happen to spot the vicar brimming with pride. It might be stark and dark, but the evening is still overwhelmingly rejoiceful, celebrating diversity and bringing with it a sense of community so often lacking at many gigs.
Photos © Jo Cox and must not be reproduced without prior consent