We walk and talk and smoke along Regent’s Canal, appreciating the sunshine that’s been tickling us all day through our respective windows. M points to a swinging rounded chair on an adjacent 5th floor balcony, they’d love to have it in our flat. H – who doesn’t live with us but is over a lot, aided by their unemployment – suggests a hammock. H recently gifted us an embroidered faux family crest; a pair of headphones (I love music duh) encircling crossed knife and whisk (M’s vegan fry ups can solve anything). It’s a cool summer’s evening, tweeting birds and the occasional cyclist. We’re here because H is about to go travelling for a few months, and suggested we go to see Still Woozy, an unsigned Californian singer – real name Sven Gamsky – with 10s of millions of Spotify listens, whose music drapes twee guitar tones over louche funk, here with his bassist and drummer to play their first ever British gig. I’ve only heard a brief snatch of the music, but I trust H.
One morning last summer I woke up from a dream, feeling woozy and blue. I’d dreamt about a conversation with my ex, a conversation that ended in their looking at me with genuine disgust, and my flying out of the window in a jet of flame and metal, destructively landing on a lamppost which emitted a series of coins like they do in Simpsons Hit and Run. I woke up – or went up one Inception level – and sat crying next to my younger brother, before waking up for real, alone. I phoned up H and they sympathised, before recommending that I don’t read too much into it (they know how analytic I get), that I remember that there’s a lot more randomness to our dreams’ construction than folk psychology suggests. I sat up, drank some water and went for a walk in the sun.
Back to the present day. M buys a reasonably priced pre-gig pie from Young Vegans, along with a chocolate and peanut butter pudding that tastes like God. Check them out if you’re ever in town, they sell homecooking pies as well! We sit and watch a heron walk comically slowly around us, stalking leftover food. Finally, we walk up the stairs to Dingwalls’ entrance and down into its main room.
As the gig starts with the anthemic, vigourous Lucy, we’re hit by a mass scream from the audience who immediately notice its opening notes. I’m standing at an elevated side section of the room, looking down at a crowd of hugging couples, irrepressible grins and waving arms. After the gig I’ll immerse myself in that gorgeous sound, particularly falling for tracks like Lava which allow Gamsky’s gentle, plaintiff voice to sprawl out like a sun kissed tabby cat, but here, live, the overwhelming sound is more punchy than woozy. The drummer and bassist trample and bounce around Lava, and the proverbial cat’s meowling is mostly drowned out by the crowd’s perfectly unified, muscular howl. Though Gamsky isn’t consistently able to deliver the records’ lilting vocal details live, the crowd do that job perfectly for him, rising and falling with Wolfcat’s spikes; ‘THERE’s no other PLACE we should beeeee’ and do-do-do-doooing along to those hyperchill guitar noodles. A particularly lovely moment comes in a cover of my favourite Mac Demarco song, Still Beating, a cover that perfectly lays out the distinct, addictive nature of Still Woozy’s sound; I write in my notes app that it sounds like D’angelo if he hadn’t masturbated till the age of 15, though when listening back to a youtube clip later that will feel unfairly off the mark. I’ll feel better about the comment when I discover that Gamsky’s favourite album is indeed D’angelo’s Voodoo)
Throughout the gig there’s a jubilant to and fro between band and crowd, their energy reflected right back at them from the dancing onstage. A few of the songs don’t involve all three members, but they’re all constantly moving, dancing, cheek-kissing, enacting miniature marriages; they remind me of the dance segments in Queer Eye. After the gig finishes I wait around with H to get a photo with Gamsky, and chat to one superfan about how they got into the band (a Spotify recommendation based off Glass Animals, ‘I guess they are quite gooey’). His sister shares that ‘I feel like their music and the way they are onstage makes people feel they can be themselves’. There is something beautiful about Gamsky’s gesticulation-hive-dancing on the tracks that don’t involve his guitar, he looks the way I feel inside when properly getting down in my kitchen. I ask the bassist (on the right in the photo) what his favourite track to play live, he says it’s Habbit. I can’t remember the exact phrasing of his response, but it was essentially ‘Habbit, because everyone just goes crazy/gets involved/dances.’
Get Away by The Internet – whose member Steve Lacy was a major inspiration for Still Woozy – plays over the PA, and I wonder if Gamsky will follow in Lacy’s steps by getting a Britney mic, I hope so. It’s a neat moment for me as I first caught The Internet live at a similarly small venue just down the road from here. I mention this to the bassist, and he says that he feels like this will be the peak of their performance, it can’t get better even if it gets bigger, and I agree. It’s not that Still Woozy can’t get better as a live band; The Internet’s current back-and-forth between Syd’s soaring voice and Steve Lacy’s gentle drawl sounds fucking amazing. But nothing will ever touch that first gig for me, or this gig for Still Woozy fans; this was the moment that little digital numbers transmitted across the Atlantic fell aside to reveal the screaming, swaying, supportive fans.