24th April | Crofters Rights

It’s been little over six months since Boy Azooga were announced as the latest signees to Heavenly Records. Now headlining a sold-out show at Crofters Rights in Bristol, Davey Newington is first to admit “it’s lovely to see a crowd.” They deserve it; the show they produce tonight is a wide-reaching and entertaining performance.

Tropic have been no strangers to a Bristol show of late. Tthis show is one of two in three days at Crofters Rights, proving that their enthusiasm for a live show is matched by demand. This constant desire to play is working exceedingly well for them with each show, as they road-test new (as in less than a day old) songs, that give an exciting idea of the direction they are heading in. That said, they have such breadth in their sound that calling it a ‘direction’ is almost misleading.

Just as unrestricted are the excellent Zebrafi, who mould pop subtlety into odd-ball structures that seamlessly segue from harmonic placidness to wonky, restless investigation. Rafi Cohen broods over an anxious guitar line before letting loose with vexation, never standing still for a single moment. The four-piece bounce through their individual elements, yet weave them into something surprisingly purposeful.

They can craft something wonderfully effervescent without losing any of their zany craft. The harmonies that Emi and Rafi share possess a gentle temperament, but a determined abrasiveness, as they simultaneously coo and shout, “sun will rise.” Zebrafi are another example of a Bristol group following their own path and forging something uniquely enticing.

Boy Azooga ease into a woozy, psych-induced groove for their opener. Davey Newington wrangles with his guitar to create something loose and fruitfully harmonic, as Daf Davies draws an unholy amount of noise from behind the kit with apparent ease. What you can immediately draw from the group is just how much pleasure they are taking from playing these shows. Newington has a smile as wide as the stage upon his face from the off as the group playfully nod to one another.

The rhythm they are summoning moves them as much as the sold-out crowd. They explore the more improvised, noodling elements of their set early on, ‘Face Behind The Cigarette’ sounding momentous as Newington breathily exhales the vocal line in hushed tones. Here their little idiosyncrasies come to the fore.

A lingering bass melody entwines itself with the verse, representative of the vibrant charisma that the singles have exuded. What’s particularly interesting about Boy Azooga is their range in songwriting. New new single, ‘Jerry’ blossoms under the influence of the 70s, before the group bounce once again into something heavier, more experimental yet no less concise and compelling. It’s a good sign of the range we can expect from their debut album 1, 2 Kung Fu! 

As the group transition from a lengthy improvised jam that includes a friend from the audience showing off some mighty tambourine skills into latest single ‘Loner Boogie,’ you can’t help but praise the immediate maturity and ability of the group. Boy Azooga will be a mainstay of the festivals this summer and rightly so. Where they go from here is completely in their hands.