Young Kato @ The Portland Arms

LOUIS DU SAUZAY thinks up-and-coming band Young Kato proved their potential at the Portland Arms.

bastille Dance drink lous du sauzay made in chelsea Music play portland arms young kato

What comes to mind when you think of Made in Chelsea? Ridiculously coincidental meetings? Relationship breakups by the Thames? Awkward silences? That one with the really big nostrils? Music? Whilst it may not be the thing that first comes to mind, Made in Chelsea has forged a reputation for having one of the best soundtracks on TV. From the 1975 to Flume, the Naked and Famous to M.I.A., Made in Chelsea gets its music right, and more often than not well ahead of the time (Bastille’s ‘Flaws’ was featured on the soundtrack in June 2011, well before he signed to a label and was turned into a band). The result is that Made in Chelsea has become the Zane Lowe of TV (equally if not more intense than the Radio 1 DJ), with new artists scrambling for the Royal Borough’s seal of approval.

One such band lucky enough to be championed by the show is the Cheltenham-based Indie-Pop sextet, Young Kato. Signed to BMG Chrysalis, these relative newcomers got their break when an episode saw the MIC crew go to one of their gigs at Camden’s Barfly, sending Twitter into overdrive in the process and resulting in the band trending worldwide. A few EP releases later Young Kato are now embarking on their first major UK headline tour having supported the likes of You Me at Six and Peace.

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Cheltenham-based Indie-Pop sextet, Young Kato

The Portland Arms probably isn’t a venue you know very well; a bit removed from town on Chesterton Road, it’s hardly a student hub. Walking into what is initially a standard pub, you wouldn’t be the first to think you’re in the wrong place until a door through to the back of the building reveals an intimate music venue, with a capacity of 200 according to the website, although this figure seems a bit adventurous/illegal to me. Despite the odd time of the performance – this was the only matinee performance of their tour, with the band performing a 45 minute set starting at 3pm – the room still felt like it could be a sweaty night-time music venue, which complimented the band’s ‘Skins Party’ vibe. That said, it was unfortunate the venue was really only half full, perhaps due to a lack of promotion, and you couldn’t help but feel only half the full effect.

Comparisons to bands like Two Door Cinema Club and Dog is Dead are probably fair, and came through particularly in the new material the band debuted, yet both sonically and visually Young Kato feel a bit younger and fresher. A mostly up-tempo and high energy set, the pace dropped off slightly towards the middle of the set, only to return to the speed where the band are best.

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Young Kato squeeze on stage at the intimate settings of The Portland Arms

Two things are most noticeable about Young Kato, the first being the 80’s influence that runs through their hair and music – their recent cover of Boy Meets Girl’s ‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’ would have been a nice addition to the set, but was made up for by the 80s synths and guitar riffs on songs like ‘Break Out’ and ‘Life’s Good’. The second is their anthemic, pop-friendly choruses (think the ‘eh eh oh eh oh’ of Bastille’s ‘Pompeii’), seen especially on their opener ‘Revolution’, which sounded just as good if not better live. “We’re a band that like to sing and shout at you, so feel free to join in” frontman Tommy Wright tells us a few minutes into the set. It’s this that is at the heart of their music; with a remarkable stage presence for a 20 year old, Tommy’s voice is one of the bands strongpoints, and works best on their massive closing number and strongest song, ‘Drink, Dance, Play’, which saw the audience chanting along to the epic chorus (“WE DRINK AND WE DANCE AND WE DANCE AND WE PLAY”), the most memorable moment of the gig by far.

Drink, Dance, Play – Young Kato

Young Kato seem to have found a sound that works for them, and their confidence in that sound comes off on stage. Now all they need is the arena and crowd to match the energy in their songs.