Event Review: Tru Thoughts Records 18th Birthday Party @ Roundhouse (London, 21st October 2017)

A big revelry for exciting Brighton-based independent label Tru Thoughts, as they celebrated their coming-of-age with a punching all-day party! Full of friends and fans, there were queues to see their newest acts that not even a wink or a press pass could sneak you through. A sign that they certainly must be some of the most popular kids on the indie label scene right now.

Set up in 1999 by Robert Luis and Paul Jonas, they have matured into a flourishing label organically as a progression from running local club nights. Their events’ popularity leads them to start signing and releasing their favourite acts. They have a diverse roster of soul, brass, and underground UK hip-hop and world-influenced dance music.

Showcasing both live and electronic music, they invited their newest and oldest acts to perform. New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band was certainly the most attention-grabbing and irresistible band to command the crowd. The brass was hard and they put their own spin on modern commercial classics. The spectators went loopy as they played ‘Sexual Healing’. It’s hard to imagine meeting anyone who couldn’t be charmed onto the dance floor by their energy, mouth-watering rhythms and Southern-drawl banter as they wave their white handkerchiefs in the air. 

In the last few days, we mourned the passing of Fats Domino. As the piano king of rhythm and blues, he helped define the sound of New Orleans, which is a merging of West African blues, gospel and classical American styles. As the band honed their style on the streets of the Crescent City themselves, they almost certainly brought some of his spirit on stage with them.

It’s rare to see someone on the line-up under the guise of a modern soul singer and really expect them to deliver on the qualities that made the genre what it was in the sixties. However, Alice Russell brings a subtlety and strength with swelling musical depth. She certainly wouldn’t sound out of place performing with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.

One of the more confusing acts was Anchorsong. They meet the cliché of nerdy-looking boy fronting the group with synth knobs as four female string players add live harmony in the shadows. Although wedded to the strength of the idea of mixing the mediums and also convinced by their skill in songwriting, the band didn’t quite execute a live performance that took the audience with them on a journey. However, I believe this is a band to watch as they work on their future material and refine their live shows.

Lots of DJs took to the party through the night, with Quantic playing a long set of Latin-inspired beats, with a particularly strong Colombian influence.

The best element of the celebration was the collaboration between the artists as they joined each other on stage. This feels like a family of artists brought together through sheer talent and love for the moonlight. I can’t wait to see more from one of the UK’s best independent labels Tru Thoughts in the years to come.

Photo ©: Ali Tollervey