The Oozes in their Wes Anderson-esque outfitsEmmy Warr with permission from Varsity

It’s a Saturday night and I’m standing in the back room of Cambridge’s Blue Moon. Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” is playing, the floor is barely visible under a sea of platform Doc Martens, and The Oozes are about to take the stage. The London punk four-piece are approaching the home stretch of an impressive forty-two-show UK tour, but they don’t seem to be losing momentum.

Singer Tom Gilbert is the loudest mime artist I’ve ever seen, tearing up the stage in a polka-dot suit and clown makeup. Breathlessly, he powers through cackles, shouts, and lyrics criticising the government (“Blah Blah Blah”) and transphobia (“Cuppa T”) with a permanent cheesy grin. His banter between songs is an easy-going combination of in-jokes and political statements. A call to “Fuck the Tories” receives a raucous response, and there is a loud cheer when Gilbert asks if there are any trans boys in the crowd.

“An almost unrecognisable cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause’ is a stroke of genius”

The rest of the group consists of bassist Ciara Clarke, drummer Olly Chrich and guitarist Cherry Cicely. Doused in red light and wearing vibrant, over-patterned suits, they look like a nightmare directed by Wes Anderson. The rhythm section expertly brings the whiplash speed that characterises many of the band’s songs, making heads in the audience nod so fast that there will be some sore necks in the morning.

'SWALLOW' from The Oozes' debut EPYouTube (The Oozes)

Cicely shares that their guitar was borrowed from the opening band just five minutes before she took the stage, yet still manages to shred some impressive solos, and when Clarke’s bass malfunctions mid-set, they embrace the rough-and-ready sound, managing to pull through the rest of the show without missing a beat.

An almost unrecognisable cover of Lady Gaga’s “Applause” is a stroke of genius, which melds the frenetic speeds of hyper-pop and punk, and a stark contrast to the original that highlights just how much personality the band are bringing to the stage.


Mountain View

Beans on Toast at The Portland Arms

The Oozes look every bit the youthful DIY band, but they have several tracks with over a million streams on Spotify, and their latest single, “DBSAC”, was produced by acoustic-punk heavyweight Frank Turner. Most of their songs are standard high-octane rock, blurring into one another as the set progresses. Occasionally, however, there are moments of musical interest: a cathartically violent build-up in “Eat Shit” and prog-rock vocals in “Hungry”. The music itself is clever and well-executed, but it’s not the highlight of the show, which is undoubtedly their attitude.

They close with “Bitchboy”, another breakneck banger, before making a timely exit, joking, “we are into edging, but we don’t do encores.” By the end of the set, The Oozes have proven that, despite appearances, they are a band to be taken seriously, delivering a furious message with an air of infectious queer joy, alongside expert musicianship and technicolour charisma.