‘This is our first time playing in about a month,’ Superfood lead singer Dom Ganderton admitted cheekily before launching into a rendition of Daisy. The show had opened with You Can Believe, but it was during Daisy that things really picked up. Their month away from the stage would hardly have been apparent had it not been mentioned, and the crowd didn’t seem to mind a bit. A few songs later, hardly an audience member would be found standing still or sequestering themselves in an available corner.
Ganderton’s background is in production, as so many of the press releases and other articles will tell you, having produced early singles for the likes of Peace and Swim Deep. Superfood (whose members include Ryan Malcolm on guitar and vocals, Emily Baker on bass, and Carl Griffen on drums) are a natural outgrowth of that interest, and provided an interesting contrapuntal conclusion to my week spent reviewing Sea Change. It is apparent that Superfood are comfortable in the studio; their recordings sound great and do justice to an atmosphere of fun and collaborative rapport which one would assume pervades such sessions.
The band aren’t uncomfortable trying new things; one got the sense that the recordings were well-edited presentations of the result of a fair amount of playing around the songs in the studio, the results of which resurfaced live. The band seemed to have a great time and this translated readily to the audience.
That having been said, faithfully replicating your studio sound onstage and having a clear and concise grasp on what will make for tracks equal parts catchy and clever will only take you so far. The band is made of great musicians who know their way around the studio, but it would be a stretch to call them dynamic performers. Sure, the songs are good, the crowd was into it, but what sets them apart from any number of other British ‘indie’ bands on the scene today?
Performance obliges a group to present a total image. People have listened to the album and are now ready to complete the picture. A band may have made a well-considered work but what is one left to make of this when the group itself is less consciously conceptualized? And what does one stand to gain from a performative experience which is less about transcendent performance but transliterated presentation?
I contemplated these as I couldn’t help but keep dancing. Superfood may not be the most charismatic group, and I may not get the way in which they reconcile their personal styles and their music, but I would be remiss not to mention how great of a time both audience and performers had that evening. Perhaps I should have asked the group of girls gathered at the front, singing every word. They always seem to know these things best.