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Live Review: Cavetown at Manchester Academy

Following our interview with bedroom superstar Cavetown, Robin and accompanying band took to headline Manchester Academy One as part of their ‘Man’s best Friend EP’ tour. See Mancunion contributor Maddie Drake’s recollection of the gig below. 

It’s a Sunday evening. I’m trying to relax. I’ve got labs all day Monday—I can’t go too crazy. But hark! A Facebook messenger notification! Reece, the music section editor for this most distinguished student publication, has messaged me telling me he’s double booked himself, and needs me to run valiantly to his rescue. He has a mission for me. The mission? Go to a Cavetown gig.

With two hours until doors open, I agree at once. Me and my trusty sidekick Lewis have pint in the (almost completely deserted) Student Union bar and set out. We stealthily slip past the enormous queue that you may well have seen snaking all the way down from the Manchester Academy to the front doors of the library. We’re in without a hitch.  

The support act is none other than 22-year-old singer Sara Kays from the USA, who I gather is rarely seen without her black beanie on (she is, of course, wearing it onstage). She sings songs of teenage relatability, like ‘Chosen Last’. Not exactly hyper-eloquent or ground-breaking, but definitely good. I wouldn’t say I’m her target audience, and the age demographic in here is only reassuring my suspicions. Supported by a blond man on guitar and keys, she switches between an acoustic guitar of her own and a ukulele (or is her guitar just shrinking when I’m not looking?). The highlight of her set is when she covers Miley Cyrus’ ‘The Climb’—she couldn’t have picked a more apt song to cover if she’d tried.

In the following interval there is a mini meet and greet by the near-deserted bar frequented solely by me and people’s parents. Lewis is very excited for it; he gets a hug and a picture and we both get her to sign our completely-legit-looking tickets.

Beer in hand, we head back into the crowd for the main event. Cavetown, my mission objective, appears and is greeted by a lot of screaming. He’s joined on stage by his band: drummer, bassist/laptop magician, and a guitarist who looks like the lovechild of Adam Driver and Machine Gun Kelly (the lead guitar is strong and well implemented into the songs, if a bit weak in the mix).

The performance is relatively low energy but I think this is for two reasons: a) Cavetown’s aesthetic—laid back bedroom-pop-gone-big, baggy knitted jumpers, hats with animal ears on them, doesn’t call for the output from performers I’m more used to; b) the vast majority of the people in the room know all the words. The crowd doesn’t need winning over by high theatrics because they already love him.

That being said, he plays a cover of a song from the Cartoon Network animated series Adventure Time that has gone viral on TikTok, and people only know the words to the first verse. At this point in time, my notes say “someone is filming this with a Nintendo DS”.

My favourite song of the set is ‘Sweet Tooth’, which has him dancing around the stage a bit, and does what I imagine Cavetown does best: straightforward, well-written songs with good hooks, tinged with the well-trodden themes of adolescent pining. Mission satisfactorily complete, me and Lewis decide to run all the way to the O2 Ritz to try and get into the last few songs of Eagles of Death Metal but don’t make it in (despite Lewis’ most commendable efforts to convince the bouncer we were on the guestlist) and I, with my Monday full of labs, decide to call it a night. Admittedly, a more interesting night than I had planned for myself.

Like Cavetown? Cool. You can read Reece’s interview with Mr Cavetown himself right here

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Tags: Cavetown, Manchester Acadeny, Mans Best Friend

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