By Paige McCulloch
It’s hard to describe the energy of a Molotov Jukebox gig. I don’t even know if gig is the right way to describe it, as its quite unlike any I’ve been to. The band somehow transformed what was the upstairs portion of an, admittedly, hipster bar in Hackney into a nautical-themed house party.
Each song from Molotov Jukebox’s latest album, Tropical Gypsy, invites you to dance. The combination of swing, Latin soul, and, of course, gypsy music ensured that it was not just the audience that were dancing, but also Natalia Tena, Sam Apley, and their flamboyant group, all of them enjoying the night just as much as we did.
The evening started off with their phenomenally talented opening act, The Beat-boxing Hobbit, until the band themselves came out on stage wearing some of the most ridiculous and fun costumes I’ve ever seen. Apley was wearing an enviable pair of gold-sequined dungarees, and Natalia wore a crown with orange and blue spirals bouncing everywhere as she juggled her roles as accordion player and band frontwoman. The band gave out prizes for the best costumes and one lucky woman, dressed as Ariel, won a signed inflatable flamingo. Probably the most memorable point, however, was when they threw out handfuls of travel-sized Vegemite™ and small containers of rum so that the audience could drink with the band – the rum, not the Vegemite™.
It seemed as though everyone at the gig knew about the nautical dress theme apart from me. From the looks of things everyone there was a die-hard fan of the band, going off their knowledge of the words to all the songs, and all the dance moves – apparently putting your hands on the floor and wiggling your arse in the air is something they do at every gig. I could only really join in with one song, the only song I had obsessively listened to on repeat before the gig, ‘Pineapple Girl’, but with this band I didn’t feel the need to know all of their music. They made us dance and laugh throughout the evening. They hid toy sharks in their underwear and threw out wigs to bald men. The energy and passion of these artists was obvious in the performance, just as it is in their music. Ultimately, it was more of a party than a gig. A party with a whole bunch of strangers.