Hannah Jadagu and Ekkstacy, Oslo, London, November 10, 2022

There are three bands on the poster at this evening’s Pitchfork Festival showcase: Hannah Jadagu, Ekkstacy and Julien Chang. I’m here for Ekkstacy (on account of a few of his songs I’ve heard on YouTube), and though I have no reason to believe Julien Chang isn’t a good singer and performer I will miss him on this occasion. I only stay for the first two performers and make it home to bed before 10 pm. That’s how I roll these days. But back to the gig.

Oslo is an old railroad station which is now a bar (downstairs) and venue (upstairs). There are more people downstairs than upstairs ((around 15-20) when the first singer of the evening takes to the stage: Hannah Jadagu and a drummer and bass player. Texan born Jadagu has an appealing stage presence and voice. Some songs have a dreamy feel, while other are more straightforward indie-rock (whatever indie means these days). 

Though there are only three musicians on stage other instruments seem to sneak their way in to the songs. I can’t figure out whether they come from some of Hannah’s many guitars pedals or a hidden keyboard somewhere but there are definitely more sounds and layers going on than what’s coming from the three instruments on stage. It’s a pleasant, short concert and I’d definitely like to see and hear more of Jadagu in the future.

After about 20 minutes of nothing happening except a few more people turning up (maybe we’re around 50 people now), a guitarist and drummer enter the stage and play an intro which builds into a climax which is the cue for singer Ekkstacy to appear from behind the drapes at the side of the stage, and jump straight into a punky’ish song, I Wish You Were Pretty on the Inside.

After the first song Ekkstacy shouts his first ‘Thank you so much’ of the evening, which he will shout after pretty much every song – all of which are short, sharp and shattering.

Ekkstacy alternates between jumping around, and holding tight to the microphone stand as if to temper his energy while singing. A couple of stray tunes are slower than the majority of uptempo songs but the vibe remains the same for all the songs whether slow or fast. With song titles like I Walk This World By Myself and I Just Want To Hide My Face it’s an angsty set with not much room for smiles – I only notice a brief smile twice both times between Ekkstacy and the guitar player, like an inside joke more than actual enjoyment.

Ekkstacy drinks from a gin (?) bottle throughout the gig. I can see there are lemons or limes in there. But is it also gin, or is it water? Is he drinking strong liquor straight from the bottle – or is it part of a carefully crafted act? It somehow reminds of the lyrics from a Vampire Weekend song, “You’re out of control, but you’re playing a role”. There seems to be a lot of that among performers at the moment, and it makes it hard to guess who the ones who genuinely are ‘out of control’ really are. 

On several occasions Ekkstacy turns his back on the audience to smoke/vape something or other. I presume it’s just normal vaping and not a drug, but then why turn his back on the audience? Again, it seems like part of an act to appear more mysterious or dangerous. Or maybe not? I don’t know. It’s hard to tell in this social media-age where everything is contrived and everyone wears the self-appointed mental health issues on their sleeves like a badge of honour, the latest trend. The punks of the seventies wore their anger on their fashionably ripped Vivienne Westwood-sleeves. The ‘punks’ of today are more about two other A-words; angst and anxiety. Who knows how much of it is an act (another A-word). Regardless of whether Ekkstacy is smoking drugs or vaping something completely innocent, whether he’s drinking hard liquor or water, doesn’t matter too much in the end. It’s an energetic set full of nerves and jitters – and some good songs too.

Ekkstacy introduces one of the last songs, his probably most famous song, I Walk This World By Myself. People cheer and then the band start playing another song. Naughty, naughty. But they do play the song shortly afterwards, followed by one more song, the noisiest song of the set, in which Ekkstacy ends up on his back on on top of the drum set, gets back up and jumps around a bit more before he shouts a final time:

‘Thank you so much, London!’

And then he disappears behind the drapes where he came from!

Hannah Jadagu and Ekkstacy setlists
Not available

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