Live review: Oscar at Bitterzoet, Amsterdam, 9.10.

9/10

On the last night of their tour, Oscar threw an intimate party at Bitterzoet in the heart of Amsterdam.

After wowing critics and crowds across the world during their tour, expectations for the final night were high, but the entire band appeared relaxed and happy. Not only was frontman Oscar Scheller's smile contagious, but the already-impressive and infinitely catchy repertoire was delivered with equal amounts of skill and laid-back charm.

Their down-to-earth attitude and way with the crowds was obvious from the very beginning; Scheller recounted stories behind the songs as if he was talking to a group of friends (throwing in some well-pronounced Dutch words), eventually even dancing his way into the audience. It was therefore surprising – and disappointing – to see this received so passively at first: the audience seemed to only truly warm up nearly halfway through the show.

However, kicking off with 'Beautiful Words' the band were energetic all the way through, with the guitarist jumping up and down throughout the gig. While Oscar's trademark baritone is something one would normally associate with melancholic ballads, its mix with dancey synths and infectious melodies worked well even in a live setting, creating an unusual dynamic. Musically standing somewhere between the poise of Foxygen and Shamir's playfulness, but vocally closer to (you called it) Morrissey or Jens Lekman, it's difficult to know how to feel: the epic 'Sometimes' filled the room with poppy lightness and ecstasy, while 'Fifteen' revelled in nostalgia, taking everyone back to their own teenage years. The encore, 'Stay', was the only track of the night that came close to a traditional ballad, but even then the audience remained euphoric.

Perhaps it's the depth of Scheller's voice, or the lyrics that have constant hints of darkness, but there is always a downbeat undercurrent behind the optimism. It is precisely through this undertone that Oscar manage to provide something incredibly uplifting and comforting – something that 'Daffodil Days' (originally autocorrected from ”difficult days”) captures and sums up perfectly: ”You're on your own, but that's ok / Just hold in time, so there's no weight on you / And now you're cured from every past”.

The songs allowed space for sadness and melancholy – especially the harrowed 'Only Friend' – but they did so with a sense of acceptance that spread across the whole audience. With this, it's only fair to say that what Oscar offered in Amsterdam to wrap up their tour, was one of the best feel-good gigs of the year.


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