Patawawa, Live at Notting Hill Arts Club

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Read Audio Snobbery’s interview with Patawawa here.

It is eight o’clock when Patawawa are called for final soundchecks and preparations, and the Snobs’ conversation with the band has to come to an end. Easy C has made different supper plans and has to begin his long journey south of the river, and so, with roughly ninety minutes to kill – and in an Audio Snobbery first – Cuzomano and John found themselves attending a support act: Karma Kid. Fresh-faced and surrounded by an equally young crowd restlessly waiting for Patawawa’s funk session to begin, Karma Kid delivered an impressively passionate performance. Cuzomano first saw Ed Sheeran at Notting Hill Arts Club, back when he still rapped, and was introduced by Westwood of all people. Is Karma Kid the next singer-songwriter to erupt onto the global stage out of this hallowed venue? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

As Patawawa come on-stage, the audience is dosed up on a healthy slice of the ’80s disco-funk vibe that characterises the trio’s sound with opener Dare to Disco, one of the band’s first and most recognisable tunes. 

“Londoooon! We are Patawawa from Derbyshire! Are you ready to get funky?” Sam asks the crowd, evidently composed by a very vocal local fanbase of close friends journeying down from “up north” to the band’s London show. All The Time follows.

When playing live, Beth, Sam and Rory are joined on stage by two session lackeys (unnamed, of whom we were not made aware), one on the drums and the other providing indispensable keyboard support to their groovy beat. The latter does not hold back and is given his moment to shine early into the show, immediately launching himself into a solo during Lonely – to which John nodded in appreciation. 

Heading back to the bar to keep up with the student-binge-drinking-party vibe that has engulfed the concert – Cuzomano and John witness a couple of more light-weight, pale-faced and unconscious attendees being carried out by their friends just two songs into the show. Hedonists, these young folk are not.

Back at the stage, Sam continues to engage the crowd while providing a hearty dose of backing vocals. The dynamic between him and Beth is evident, with the latter showing true promise as a vocalist, with a good balance between strong flourishes and gentle theatrics. Beth is confident and her voice fills the room. All the while Rory operates in the shadows, showing glimpses of brilliance in his guitar solos and visibly enjoying himself, it is clear he is Patawawa’s music mastermind and “puppet master,” as Beth and Sam described him earlier.

“The next song is new – came out a couple of weeks ago. If you don’t like it, sorry,” announces Sam as they launch into That Guy. The energy on stage is contagious, and even an old soul like Cuzomano was seen tapping his feet in the midst of the considerably younger crowd. “You guys are too much, you’re making us blush,” says Beth amidst an explosion of applause and cheers.

It comes as little surprise that the band mentioned Franc Moody and Jungle as references when asked about it – the influence on Patawawa’s sound and performance is clear, and it works. The soul and funk are there, and at 19 years old the band clearly has room to grow. On top of it, you can see that they are having fun, which helps the performance a lot. On this front, Sam certainly takes the crown, as one might guess from the amount of sweat dripping off his body – probably enough to flood a couple of islands in the Pacific.

“Bad news, we’ve got only one left, and it’s shit. Are you ready?” Quite some to Patagonia, Patawawa’s catapult onto the radar and booking schedules of venues and festivals last year. With several healthy nods to many earlier dance genres, it provides a full-on karaoke moment for the end of the set. 

While nearly everyone in attendance seems to look on at Patawawa with the starry-eyed nostalgia that one looks at their own teenage band with – which in this case clearly wasn’t that long ago – the trio seem to be laying the foundations for what could be an interesting musical career. Time will tell. Their energetic performance certainly delivers on their studio recordings, and the crowd leave West London’s underground venue with a smile on their face and a sensation of having completed their step count for the week in just over an hour.