Operation South

New Cross, South East London. A place I always knew existed but never visited. Except for that one time, in a taxi, being looked after by a work friend who took pity on me after a Christmas party… I had only returned a couple of weeks ago for the same friend’s celebratory reception party. There was a bouncy castle, I didn’t need any further encouragement.

Being ‘so far ‘South did feel a little foreign. After almost a decade in London I can say I’ve lived roughly in all the corners of town; South West, North West, East, North, Essex (aka ‘Super East’) and back in town – East again. Noticing a trend there? Since moving out of SW I have not spent much time south of the river at all.

Having ventured back for the second time in six months I thought I’d paid my dues to the gods of SE, turns out not quite yet. I found out a mate’s band were playing a gig and I was excited to check them out for the first time. Low and behold, for the second weekend in a row, I trekked back to New Cross.
Not quite Narnia…
Close to the station (and bang on time) we bounded into the New Cross Inn last Friday evening. It was a decently sized pub with a large stage directly opposite the entrance. The seating was benches oddly all pushed together in a row perpendicular to the stage, which left a large empty space in front of the small bar. This was completed with a pool table seemingly placed to fill the gap a little. Upon further investigation we found some booths tucked around a corner through a doorway and another basement level below.

Securing a drink and meeting mates we were ready to rock. Operation Offbeat was the focus of our attention for the evening. Having formed a couple of years ago this band had only been performing since the beginning of this year, but their polished professionalism shone through.

In full swing

The line-up was short of a second guitar on this occasion, but still included an impressive brass section complete with trumpet, trombone and saxophones. Their upbeat ska/pop/punk sound was infectious. The trumpet actually reminded me of a brass section trend among SA rock bands in the late 90’s I loved back in the day, namely the ‘Springbok Nude Girls’ and ‘Dorp’ – in case anyone remembers them.

Operation Offbeat’s sound, however, was large – enough to fill any empty space with big beats and big brass. The levels unfortunately weren’t the best. There was a touch of distortion on vocals and the single guitar got a little lost behind the wall of bass, drums and saxophone. This did nothing to dampen the impact of their sound at all as it blasted at us with enough energy to get everyone’s feet tapping and heads’ bobbing (at the very least). The urge to skank alone was rather strong.

The punchy set was over too quickly. The vibe in the room seemed to intensify with each song and the small crowd that was present all seemed uplifted by the show. I kept smiling throughout as I heard the likes of some of my favourites, and their influences – The Specials, Rancid and Madness – trickling through. Described by another as ‘Skapunkalicious’ – I could not have said it better myself. 

‘Operation South’ was a brilliant success. (No bouncy castle required) I was certainly glad to have made the journey again, especially since I was lucky enough to get my sticky little fingers on their EP titled Promo (thanks Duff) as well as a badge – of course. I hope to see loads of you join us next time!

Love merch

Promo is available for streaming and downloading on Bandcamp: https://operationoffbeat.bandcamp.com/releases

Their tunes are also there for the enjoying on Spotify, iTunes and Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/operationoffbeat

Keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming gigs, videos, proper pics and news: