Hailing from across the pond, psychedelic rock band Syd Arthur and indie folk singer-songwriter Jake Bugg put on a night of feel-good jams at Terminal 5 this week.
The name “Syd Arthur” appropriately alludes to psychedelic rock vanguards Syd Barrett and Arthur Lee, as the band delivers a modernized interpretation of their musical legacy and creatively incorporates elements of jazz and progressive rock. The band played a mix of songs from their older albums and poppier new singles previewing their upcoming album Apricity, which is scheduled to be released next month. It’s hard not to see a resemblance between Syd Arthur frontman Liam Magill and Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker, from the flowing, sandy hair to the extensive use of distortion pedals. Syd Arthur’s newer, more synth-reliant tracks seem to draw influence from Tame Impala’s sound but are less dreamy and sublime. Instead, the band goes for a groove that is both easy to enjoy and musically distinct. Even though most of the audience came to see Jake Bugg, Syd Arthur’s funky instrumentation and accessible melodies had everyone bobbing their heads to the beat.
Jake Bugg, who came out onto the stage solo in a black t-shirt and jeans, opened his performance with an intimate acoustic set. He began with “On My One,” the title track from his most recent album, in which he sings “I’m just a poor boy from Nottingham,” and explores his place in the world. To close the acoustic set, Bugg played “All That,” another song from his newest album, which he explained that he wrote because “as musicians, we travel around, we meet lots of different people, but it’s sometimes hard to maintain those relationships and stuff like that.” The crowd erupted in cheering as Bugg sang, “when I was in New York,” referring to his transient encounter with a girl while touring in the city.
Bugg then brought his band to the stage, and they started with the dangerously catchy hit “Two Fingers,” to which the entire audience danced and sang along. Though Bugg already has three studio albums under his belt, he is only 22 years old, and his endearingly shy personality shows on stage. He stated playfully, “I’ve been trying to talk to the crowd more, so I started drinking on stage to see if it helps or not.” Proceeding to play a medley of popular songs from all three of his albums, such as “Seen It All,” “Love, Hope, and Misery,” and “Slumville Sunrise,” Bugg’s set went on for almost two hours, but the audience never seemed to get bored. There is nothing particularly unique or groundbreaking about the singer-songwriter’s music, but it’s easy to tell that his fans have very personal connections to his songs, as cheering broke out during the opening chords of almost every one he played. To bring the show to a close, Jake Bugg played an emotionally charged, acoustic version of “Broken,” and followed it up with punchy and energetic performance of “Lightning Bolt.” By letting his music do the talking and balancing sentimentality with danceable tunes, Bugg has mastered the art of pleasing his crowd.
Photos by Reyna Wang