Gig Review: Otala at The Chameleon

Words: Maddie Dinnage
Tuesday 28 November 2023
reading time: min, words

Having recently taken the stage at Wide Eyed Festival and Dot to Dot, OTALA’s headline show at The Chameleon was a highly-anticipated affair. The post-punk quintet set themselves head-and-shoulders above the rest with their spoken-word vocal style and their unexpected jazz influences. It seems it’s only a matter of time before the Nottingham-based band receive the recognition they so rightly deserve…

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Having arrived just in time to catch HAAL’s opening set, I succumb to the world of post-rock. The Bristol-based band beckon the crowd further into an out-of-body experience with their experimentally industrial soundscapes and psychedelic visuals. The group draw their energy from a multitude of artistic mediums, interspersing their trip-hop instrumentals with spoken-word elements, infused with uninhibited rage.

The walls of The Chameleon were cast with a spectrum of colours as the projector screen showcases a series of eerie, backrooms-esque art pieces. For the duration of HAAL’s set, The Chameleon became a liminal space between the real and the unreal; a tough feat and an even tougher act to follow.

OTALA were up to the task, kicking off their set with their 2023 single Tennov. The band slips easily into a space of destruction – producing instrumentals which push the boundaries of the punk genre, and lyricism which is unafraid to challenge the status quo. While drummer Fin moves the crowd with a gritty, cymbal-heavy percussion beat, bassist Rory establishes a dread-filled bassline.

It is the innovative use of jazz-influences in the form of saxophonist Charlotte which really gives OTALA their signature sound. In a tapestry of post-punk, the saxophone elements interweave a subtle, yet groovy, golden thread. The instances of satisfying dissonance are the disorder that holds it all together, in which the band pushes their instruments to the very limit, each sound at odds with the other. As I stand back to breathe in the bigger picture, an image of carefully controlled chaos emerges.

Long-time fans were grateful to hear penultimate track Tell the Bees. It’s angsty, self-aware lyricism picks apart the very fabric of corporate mundanity, an anger which is amplified by frontman Oscar’s deeply urgent vocals. The singer admits “we haven’t played that one in a while” – it was certainly a popular decision to bring this one back for the headline show.

OTALA performed at The Chameleon on 21 November 2023 and they are set to support Opus Kink at The Bodega on 7 December 2023


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