It’s only in the last few years that new British electronic acts have risen again to becoming festival headliners. Since the emergence of Disclosure a decade ago, it has only been after the pandemic that the likes of Bicep and Fred again.. have developed dazzling live shows that are now filling arenas. At their Roundhouse gig on Wednesday night, Welsh brothers Overmono stake a claim to be the next in line.
Ed and Tom Russell started out as underground DJs and producers under the Tessela and Truss monikers respectively, and joined forces as Overmono in 2015. It wasn’t until 2021 though, when their song ‘So U Kno’ became a post-lockdown festival anthem, that their grander ambitions started to emerge. Since then, they have released catchy, transcendent debut album Good Lies on XL and remixed the likes of For Those I Love and Ed Sheeran.
The Roundhouse show, which comes at the end of a world tour that’s made them one of the most talked about live acts of 2023, takes them to a new level. Visually, you see the beginnings of a show that can carry them towards arenas, with a trio of LCD screens adding a vital, stimulating visual accompaniment to their largely ordinary set-up (two men hunched over a desk).
Vitally, the music is also strong enough to achieve mainstream success. The duo’s background in hard, unrelenting techno is stamped all over Good Lies, with metallic beats instantly reminiscent of Burial. What takes it out of the underground and into the charts, though, is the dexterity and catchiness of their samples and the bubbling, sugary synths laid on top. ‘Is U’ flips a Tirzah vocal into a pulsating, yearning anthem, while ‘Freedom 2’ sees them team up with regular collaborator Joy Orbison and raucous rapper Kwengface for a chaotic romp.
At the Roundhouse, they turn The Streets‘ ‘Turn The Page’ into a glitchy techno banger, also working the jubilant melody of Stormzy‘s ‘Shut Up’ into another remix. Their version of For Those I Love’s heartbreaking opus ‘I Have A Love’ is another highlight, and shows the pair’s uncanny ability to direct incongruous source material towards the dancefloor. David Balfe himself joins the band for the remix, resulting in a genuinely spine-tingling emotional exorcism.
What’s most impressive about Overmono is the lack of compromise in moving from underground heroes towards chart-botherers. Their past is honoured and their future chased down with equal enthusiasm, and the mix is one that has huge future success written all over it.