There’s nothing like spur of the moment plans and at 24 hours notice I was stood at Riverside’s doors ready to bop. Sundara Karma’s rise has been a long time coming. They’ve been a band since they were 14 and putting out music professionally for nearly three years. Sundara have had a meteoric year which has seen them support Nothing but Thieves and Bring Me The Horizon alongside three headline tours, opening the R&L main stage and announce their debut album. With such a busy year its no surprise they’ve been turning heads and gaining a couple of celebrity fans in the form of Harry Koisser and Matty Healy.
The buzz of the young audience, glittered to the nines, is enough of an indicator of how the night will go from the offing. Support band, Freak, a punky trio seem to have the crowd eating out of their hands with a pit having opened by the end of the first song. They keep up the momentum with frontman Connor Ridd having that ‘puppy after a nap’ excitement, creating a real contrast to the band’s jaded and bleak lyrics. When the crowd appears to be settling they kick in up a notch and Ridd only goes and jumps into a willing crowd before finishing the song surrounded by the pit. For a group of teenagers Freak really know what they’re doing and I can’t see it being long before they’re on their way back to Riverside to headline.
Half an hour later the lights went down and Sundara Karma bustled on stage. I don’t know who said it first but it is agreed that a band should look like a gang and that Sundara do. An odd one, but a gang nonetheless. They opened with the anthemic Indigo Puff which lulled the crowd into a false sense of security as everyone bopped and danced before they launched into the far more punchy A Young Understanding which got a pit going before the chorus arrives.
By the time they’d gone through Run Away and Freshbloom I was looking around unsure if the shiny faces were glitter or bare sweat (probably a fair mix). Sundara have been debuting a couple of songs from Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect and even those had everyone bouncing and the odd hardcore fan singing along as best they could. About half way through the set the band took a bit of a risk and covered the Vandross classic ‘Never Too Much’. I was a little surprised but from a frontman in a white silk shirt I should’ve expected no less of Oscar Pollock. The crowd were up for a boogie and a few minutes of light relief.
She Said willed the pits to open once again and guitarist Ally Baty looked back in his element and cracked a smile at the response of the audience before getting back to his riffs. If the response to She Said can say anything it’s that the Sundara Karma lads can expect 2017 to be the biggest year of their lives. Crowd pleasers like Vivienne saw Pollock climb the barrier at the end of the set. The encore ensued chaos in the form of Loveblood, inspired by Shakespearean love and four years in the making, which set Riverside alight with energy. Whichever of them that put the set together clearly knew what they were doing, although I’ll say I was sad to see the omission of Hustle.
If this is what Sundara Karma have pre-album then their post-album rise will be even more meteoric than that of Catfish and the Bottlemen. They can kiss goodbye to playing nightclub and look forward to headlining festival stages and selling out academies by the end of 2017. If you fancy catching them later on the tour then have a look here or you can pre-order the album here.