Review: Cavetown @ The Fleece

Cavetown @ The Fleece, Bristol, 10/12/19

For any of you who don’t know, Cavetown (aka Robin Skinner) started making music on YouTube in 2012, singing a mix of ukulele covers and original songs from his bedroom. Now, at the age of 21, not only does he have over a million subscribers on his YouTube channel, but he has also self-released three studio albums and amassed nearly three million monthly listeners on Spotify. That means, when we arrived at his gig 20 minutes before doors opened, the queue to get in already snaked around the building and down the street (the YouTube cult is committed, and kind of terrifying…). Luckily, after a little too long standing in the rain, which the wind was helpfully blowing into our faces, we managed to get in just as the first support act was beginning their set and wiggle our way towards the front.

The opening support act, Spookyghostboy, brought a relaxed, boyish vibe to an already open and casual venue. His sad boi, low-fi sounds made me almost more excited to see him than the main act (if you haven’t listened to his album Losing and are looking to cathartically cry your eyes out to some beautifully written songs, I could not recommend it more). It was clear from the crowd that many had not heard of his music before, but he certainly captured their attention nonetheless. Personally, I was a little disappointed by the lack of older songs in the set list, but, overall, he played beautifully and did bring out ‘So Low’ at the end which is raw and deeply authentic in an incredibly moving way.

As Mxmtoon entered the stage, she was met with much more enthusiasm from the audience, who proceeded to listen to her sing in appreciative silence. Mxmtoon had a great stage presence, coming across as confident and honest, and was both funny and engaging in between and even during her songs. She moved from light-heartedly high-fiving the crowd, to honestly opening up about how hard she found it to like the songs that she wrote and believe that she could go into a career in music. What was most notable about her performance, though, was simply how incredible her voice is, which was somehow even more obvious live.

As much as the cheering for the support acts was enthusiastic, the cheering that welcomed Cavetown to the stage was deafening. As someone who’s been dying to see Cavetown live for the past three to four years, the slightly intense energy was perhaps unsurprising. Cavetown has undeniably built up a large and devoted fan base over his years on YouTube and now in the wider music industry. Only a few years older than me, I have a lot of respect for how he grew his career from his bedroom to its current success and stability. His YouTube days also make me (and I’m sure many others) feel like I’ve grown up with Cavetown, as his music has been in the background of so many important changes in my life. I’ve grown up as he has, and his sound reflects that. In fact, his gig was a wonderful culmination of his different sounds and eras, as he alters older songs to match how his voice and identity has changed, meaning they better fit into a set list with his newer songs. Now, however, he appeared as a much more confident and established musician, though his introductions have a real and comical awkwardness to them, and he still treats the crowd as friends rather than fans/devotees.

In general, his set was fun and inclusive, opening with the uplifting ‘Hug all your friends’ and even giving a form of pep talk about looking after yourself as an introduction to ‘Just add water’. It also had more quirky elements such as a TV in the background playing footage of his cat and a teddy bear, which he introduced as Patrick halfway through the gig, perched on a seat towards the back of the stage. These elements were very true to his character. He switched between playing songs he’d sang originally with an unbroken voice to brand new, not yet heard before songs, that were all consistently met with unwavering fanaticism from the crowd.

In summary, if you’re a long-time fan who fancies a good singalong, or a new listener you won’t be able to help but get drawn in by Cavetown’s infectious smile and love of being on stage. Keep an eye out for any of his gigs which aren’t sold out or any last-minute ticket releases (which he did for this gig). Needless to say, I’m already hyped for the album he told us would be coming early next year and I would thoroughly recommend you give it a listen too.

Katya Green 

Featured Image: courtesy of Chuff Media

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