Oso Oso @ The Hug & Pint, Glasgow, 20 Oct

On an emo bill of dreams, Oso Oso bring songs from one of the year's best albums to devoted Glasgow fans

Live Review by Tony Inglis | 23 Oct 2019

Sunday night at the emo show. The Hug & Pint’s crowd skews youthful for a bill that is a genuine dream come true: sparklepunk (insert shrug and questioning face emojis here) followed by an act flying under the radar with quietly one of the best albums of the year, a masterclass in melodic emo that makes a mockery of any other supposedly catchy guitar records released in the last ten months.

It’s a sold out show and, as may be expected from a genre followed by fans of endless flowing passion who put even little known bands on a pedestal, crowd members come sporting previously purchased merch and possessing lyrical recall to envy.

New York’s Prince Daddy & The Hyena may have quite a silly name but, despite having only been around for a few years, are basically scene stalwarts (a friend reliably informs us that r/Emo already considers their 2016 record I Thought You Didn’t Even Like Leaving a classic). Their shout-along vocals and often glammy solos are like Titus Andronicus marching at the Black Parade. The four-piece are touring their concept album Cosmic Thrill Seekers, and it’s a fun, raucous set, made all the more grin-inducing by the audience’s fervour and a totally corny but nonetheless welcome Smells Like Teen Spirit cover.

Jade Lilitri’s Oso Oso are tonight's headliners – essentially a one-man band on record that is filled out live with players for the key instruments. (It should be noted that, strangely, Oso Oso begin playing 20 or so minutes earlier than advertised. Set timing may not be an exact art, but the show begins with a half-empty room. Luckily, most are simply at the bar upstairs, and mill down when word filters through.)

This year’s basking in the glow is frighteningly good, filled with relentless hooks. These are fully-fledged pop songs, with Lilitri leaning towards hopefulness throughout. The fact that “-punk” is a suffix being used to describe them only means they don’t reach quite as wide an audience as they might deserve. Of course, that means little to those at this show, who, in the same vein as the support, throw their entire weight and amateur singing talent behind these songs.

Lilitri is a much less expressive performer than Prince Daddy’s Kory Gregory. He's softly-spoken and gentle between songs. The first third of the set mixes some older cuts from the yunahon xixtape (the cool) and before with basking highlight, the view.

This portion is slower and more sombre than what’s come before, any rowdiness having dissipated, but as things warm up, Lilitri grows into his role. A knockout couplet of basking’s title track and dig bring things truly to life. Sometimes you can hope and hope for your favourite song, or even section of a song, to be played live, only to leave with a hint of disappointment when it isn’t. Tonight, that’s the instrumental coda to dig – it would be understandable, due to the confines of time, if this was skipped. Thankfully it isn’t. All echoing guitars, crashing cymbals and floating vowels, it’s utterly cathartic.

The final run has the whole basement bouncing, The Hug’s disco ball precariously swinging as foreheads crash into it amidst the enthusiasm. Before a final solo encore of one sick plan – which on record crackles up from beneath murk and hiss, here made shiny – main set closer gb/ol h/nf sees a mosh pit break out for the first time. This 28-year-old relative elder just stands back and surveys the beautiful chaos. It’s so reassuring to see bands, and fans, continue the legacy of a genre so often maligned and trivialised. Lilitri’s Oso Oso is at the heart of it.