Latvian band Carnival Youth returned to London last Monday to play a show at the Seabright Arms in between a few dates that they have been playing in Latvia.
This venue is a lot smaller than the famous Hanzas Perons in Rīga that they had played a few days previous. Despite this, the band walked with a sense of pride in their step as they walked onto the stage. Though not that many people from the United Kingdom have heard of the little Baltic country of Latvia, the room was filled both with both the chatters of Latvian natives and English accents. It is without a doubt that the band has done their country proud and put Latvia on the map.
The Seabright Arms, whilst a small venue had been transformed almost to replicate the feeling of being in an O2 Academy with the band’s magnificent stage set up. They had brought their signature blue wavy lights which lit up the entire venue. The crowd, for some reason, had been sat down prior to the band starting and remained seated when the band began to perform. It was clear that the crowd needed hyping up. The band prioritised this whilst playing their energetic track ‘Birthday’ which succeeds in getting the crowd off the floor and on to their feet.
Although the band released their album Good Luck in August this year, they made sure to play as many well-loved songs from a variety of their albums as they could throughout their set. ‘Brown Eyes and All The Rest’, though released in 2014, is still their most popular song on Spotify. The crowd attested to this by meeting every word sung with enthusiasm in their voices.
The band really do not disappoint live, sounding exactly as they do recorded. Singer Edgars Kaupers did not miss a single note and was fantastically engaging with the crowd. Throughout the set, he thanked the crowd both in English and Latvian. He took every opportunity to remind the crowd that there were free shots of the popular Latvian liquor Rīga Black Balsams upstairs which naturally many took up the offer for.
Whilst the band do have some songs recorded in their native tongue of Latvian, it is understandable that a bulk of their set was played in English. Of these, the band clearly have a plethora that are sure to do well on the radio. The song ‘Octopus’ with its jingly intro is reminiscent of the hybrid between indie and pop you would hear on BBC radio, played live you would almost think you were at a major summer festival such as Reading. Whilst nothing got the crowd going as much as the soulful anthem ‘Seagulls On Bicycles’, the band were greeted by a sea of phone lights that emerged from the crowd scrambling to capture their interlude of ‘Hung Up’ by Madonna.
For the size of the venue, no one had been expecting an encore. Certainly, no one had expected the band to oblige to play one when the crowd chanted for one. But alas, the band were quick to deliver returning to the stage for a few more numbers. The most notable of the encore songs was Latvian song ‘Kilometriem Tālu’ (Kilometres Away) which generated by far the biggest reaction in the crowd that night. With the first riff played, the crowd roared the lyrics, “lietus, sniegs un sastrēgumu pulss” (Rain, snow and congestion pulse) ending the night on a definite high.
The audience filtered out and most hung around after at the bar to enjoy the Black Balzams that the band had brought along with them. Carnival Youth definitely deserves more radio exposure and it would not be surprising if we begin to see these guys on the bill of major UK festivals such as Glastonbury soon. The only thing that I would have changed about their set would be that it would have been nice to hear more of the Latvian songs live as they are just as well worthy of a listen.