On Friday I went up to Nottingham to see Jockstrap at the Rescue Rooms. I found out about the tour a bit late and the London gig had already sold out. I know Nottingham quite well, as my son Kieran went to university there, and have been to the Rescue Rooms once before, to see Honeyblood, back in 2017. I like the venue – it doubles up as a nightclub called Stealth and has a capacity of 450. A good size. Beware the nightclub combination if you go to see a band there though. Normally you’d expect the headliners to come on about 9 o’clock, but in this case Jockstrap were on just after 8.15. Fortunately my hotel was on the same street and I popped by at 7.30 to check on the timings as I couldn’t find them online. Good job I did!
Jockstrap – terrible name, tongue-in-cheek, I’m sure – are a duo: Georgia Ellery on vocals, guitar and violin, and Taylor Skye on keyboards and sound effects, of which there are many. Georgia Ellery is also a violinist with Black Country, New Road, and acted in a very good film called Bait, which is about the culture clash between the second-homers and locals in Cornwall. Both studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and their musical pedigree is evident in the bewildering array of sounds in their recorded music. They released their first album, I Love You Jennifer B, last year. I really liked it, and made it No 7 in my 2022 albums of the year. Since then I’ve been listening to it even more, and I’m loving it. There’s so much going on, from folky melodies, to cinematic soundtracks, to poppy interludes, to electronic noodling, to thumping dance beats. Quite often in the same song! It repays multiple listens.
With that in mind, I was keen to see the band live again. Previously I’d just seen them at festivals: the first time at Green Man in 2019, and then Green Man again in 2021. On the latter occasion I thought they were a bit self-indulgent; but now I can see that they were experimenting with the music and the beats that would form the basis of the album. I did attempt to see them at End of the Road in 2022, but they were performing in a ridiculously small outdoor space, which didn’t cater for their growing popularity, and I couldn’t even see them. I gave up and went to see something else. This tour provided the chance to put that right.
I caught a bit of the support act PabloPablo – one man and his sound deck – and nursed my beer during the break as I tried to make sure I had a reasonable sightline of where Georgia would be singing from. I did – for a while – then a young man with a good head of hair shifted slowly to his left and partly obscured the view. Such is concert life when you are standing!
They came on amid the glaring lights, assumed their positions and started with the album opener Neon. There was no between-songs patter, just a few smiles and thank you’s. Georgia looked elegant in her long dress; Taylor almost dapper in his shirt and tie – auditioning for Kraftwerk, perhaps? The sound was excellent, the lights inventive, enhancing the show. They played for an hour or so, the set focused on the album, although there one or two older tunes, notably The City towards the end. That song is a real pointer to what would come on I Love You Jennifer B.
Highlights for me, and I think the audience too, judging by the reaction, were my three (current) favourites from the album, which have all been singles. Glasgow, with its engaging melody, Georgia strumming her acoustic guitar, was a real crowd celebration, people singing along. One of their more conventional pop songs – except it has swirls of sixties film music and a few other bells and whistles. She’s not going to Glasgow by the way! Concrete over Water might be their most popular song – it’s the most streamed on Spotify for now – and is a rather lovely ballad at heart, that reveals Georgia’s voice at its best. Its refrain had the crowd in full voice again. And finally, of course the last song of the set, the techno banger that is 50/50. That had the crowd actually dancing – it’s impossible not to. And those bass lines – wow! Even through my recently acquired proper ear plug, you could feel the vibrations drilling into your ear drum. And of course it isn’t a straight techno banger – there are all sorts of weird and wonderful things happening as the song progresses, veering it off course and bringing it back again. Meanwhile Georgia chants something about 50/50. In a way, it took me back to some of Deee-Lite’s finest moments in the early 90s – with extra bass.
And as soon as 50/50 was over, they smiled, said thank you again, and were off. Leaving a well-satisfied audience – there was a buzz about the place.
Who knows what Jockstrap will come up with next. Will they even stick together for long? Whatever Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye come up with, it is bound to be interesting.
A few more photos – just iPhone quality from near the back this time.
Such an interesting band! I am admittedly partial to artists who don’t bother with confines of genre 🙂