Brainwash Festival, Leeds, 1st November 2009 Pt 4: Oceansize

Oh dear. Oceansize have been running late, coming in from Germany this morning and then heading straight to Leeds to play Brainwash. This means that when they’re scheduled to begin playing, they’re actually soundchecking, in front of a packed auditorium, too. It’s uncomfortable for bands to do this, and uncomfortable – not to mention tedious – for the audience, too. The intro tape’s on a loop and people are getting restless. Still, what can you do?

Oceansize begin their set with a few bars of the long that’s been driving everyone crazy for the last however long – it feels like an eternity – before giving an expert demonstration in the magnificent and epic neo-prog that’s gained them such an ardent fanbase.

While they somehat disappointingly overlook the entirety their debut album, the masterpiece that is ‘Efflouresce,’ the set draws broadly from the rest of their career to date. A high point is, without doubt the truly raging rendition of ‘One Out of None,’ which is abrasive and jarring, and, frankly, brilliant. ‘Homage to a Shame,’ one of the most dynamic tracks from the slightly sub-par ‘Everyone into Position’ similarly serves as a sonic slap round the chops, in the best possible way.

There’s also new material, too: not only do they treat us to a track from the new EP, ‘Home & Minor,’ on which the band explore their softer side (in stark contrast to their other between-albums EP, ‘Music for Nurses,’ a tense and angular affair).

Time’s tight, but they also manage to squeeze in a new and as yet unreleased track from their forthcoming album, which they’re still in the process of recording. I didn’t catch the title, but it was a blistering high-speed assault, coming on like a juggernaut going full-throttle with no brakes. Not only does this auger well for the future, but it’s great to see a band who’ve been around for over ten years and built an established fanbase play like they’ve still got everything to prove. For me, Oceansize were worth the day’s ticket price alone.

Don’t forget, there’s always more of the same (only different) at!

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