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Live Review: OJ Mengel @ Black Bear Lodge – 01.09.2017

Qube Effect’s Bigsound 2017 Award winners, OJ Mengel, released some fresh new tunes for our sweet ears at Black Bear Lodge on Friday night for the launch of their sophomore EP, ‘Inauguration’.

Straight off the bat, the guys launched into a new tune, Will You Please Try This Time. Having known these guys for quite some time, I immediately felt a completely different atmosphere in their presence. Watching them play on, you could see more smiles and energy on stage. From previous shows, it took some time for them to build up their confidence but this time round they were in their element.

Still embracing his story telling essence, lead singer Oliver Mengel’s vocals were stronger than ever before. His voice never wavered or cracked as in previous shows proving the band are here for the long haul, improving with every show, release and band practice they have.

After their first song, we discovered it was bass player, Fletcher Ross’s, birthday and rather than receive gifts, he and the band gave us the gift we never knew we needed, “a healthy punch of Vitamin C straight to the face” (as the guys would say).

As Coach began, although Mengel lost his guitar strap the band knew exactly what they needed to do. Without a single hitch in the song, the band continued playing on, guitarist Tyler Drysdale adding small, strung out riffs to keep the crowd entertained until Mengel was back on track. With his wild smashing yet on point rhythms, Nicholas Downing immediately gained attention from the crowd, his strong beat and relentless energy seeping into the room, the whole crowd was dancing!

Before Say Hello played out, Mengel asked the crowd to turn to their neighbour and say a little hello, introduce yourself and jump into the groove and they did just that. Over this past year, having seen the band perform many times, their mid-set banter has clearly improved. They’ve learnt how to connect with the crowd, move them and make them laugh.

Their new tunes Attracted to You and What about Christmas kept to a soft, harmonic melody picking up to a fast-paced passionate yelling chorus. It was Ross’s funky and smooth bass lines that made the tracks all the more enjoyable to dance and sway to.

Yet there was one disappointing moment throughout the whole show, when special guest viola player, Flora Cawte came to the stage. She joined the band for their ultimate classic fan-fave (or is that just me?) Bin Night. I had been waiting for this moment, completely hyped and ready to hear what I expected to be a new fusion of Bris-core rock meets classical harmony but…You couldn’t hear Cawte’s viola at all.

Despite the hearing difficulty, Cawte looked graceful in her composure compared to the guys jumping around but somehow she fit perfectly in their scene. Be that as it may Cawte delivered soft smooth embellishments throughout No One Here Gets Out Alive and White Whale. I hope to see her return once more with the band and next time round, hear that sweet fusion of musical ability a little better.

As the night came to an end, the tunes were pumping and the almost full Black Bear Lodge was moving and grooving feeling revitalised with this freshness of vitamin OJ Mengel. Shirts were taken off, kisses were blown and promises of a future EP were made, I cannot wait to see what’s in store next.

Written by Emily Fernandez