Release- Donald Punk

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October 17th || Leah Hamer

Known for their punchy lyrics and hard-core, sweat drenched live shows, Release are back with another banger, Donald Punk, taken from their soon to be released EP, Releath The Third.

Beginning with Scooby-Doo-esque cartoon giggle, it slams into the twangy intro before being propelled into the rigorous vocals of Caleb Allport surrounded by a haze of livid guitars and demonic drums. Aggressive, clever and heart-stopping- it thrusts ahead at a million miles an hour, blending structures and time into one dominating haze of angst. It pauses briefly to welcome the imaginative violin of Jack Mitchell, who has always given Release an extra dash of uniqueness.

Relentless and intrusive, it does not give in, pushing beyond the boundaries of the norm and exploring an acidic world of political punk. After its short burst of life, the buzzing sound left in your ears does not escape you for many moments later. If this is just a taste of the EP to come, then my imagination cannot comprehend what other tricks Release have up their sleeve.

Donald Punk is available to stream below:

TMC- End of the World

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October 16th || Leah Hamer

After beginning a dream partnership with DROMA records earlier this year, TMC are on a musical mission to release a string of singles before 2017 becomes the past. The third of those is End of the World.

Kicking in straight away with monotone lyrics and a steady beat, the layers of creativity unfold as the song progresses and a storm of harmonies come crashing in- thanks to the multiple vocalists present, who all bring a unique dynamic to the track. Powerful drumming and engaging guitar solos give the track a life and hearty flavour. With every second a new element is added, allowing the volume and impact to grow and overcome you, until the end when an echoing choir surrounds you in one giant musical movement.

As a mammoth collaboration piece made up of Staffordshire’s finest, including Robert Haubus, Sophie Bret Tasker, Lewis Haubus, Jack Tasker, Matt Plant, Laura Ellement, Nixon Tate, Gary Wilcox, and Rich Greene, End of the World is an example of what happens when a very talented bunch of friends gets together to create something special.

With the production of Jack Tasker at DROMA and the mixing skills of Tom Bath at UTC, the refined quality of the track is as outstanding as always.

End of the World is available now to download from: http://bit.ly/2x9PjEv

Fears Chella- Lush

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September 30th || Leah Hamer

After releasing hit after hit since their formation last year, Fears Chella are continuing their streak of bangers with their latest release, Lush- a fizzy, slinky indie-pop topper about a piece of eye candy (not the bath bomb shop).  

Wavy, glitter indie springs at you instantly, with bubbly guitar tones and upbeat, popping drums. Tingling with electricity, the vocals guide you on a loved up story- keep everything simplistic and catchy, especially in the chorus. The hazy repetition of she’s so lush is trendy and memorable. Despite the marshmallow pop tinges running through it, there are enough sprinkles of grunge to rough it up a bit. It is a harmonious balance of influences and genres that Fears Chella have nailed on the head. In accordance with the standard structure, it ends with a final chorus, completing the dream-pop anthem naturally.

Lush is a three minute burst of vibrant energy that gets you in the mood for a groove and feeling proper lovely and lush.

Lush is available to stream and download now.

thisisldm- EP Release

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September 28th || Leah Hamer

thisisldm- ƎP A˩T. What are these cryptic letters you may wonder? In the blissful knowledge of its creator, however, it all makes perfect sense. Liam Munday- the brilliant mind behind Shared Systems, is of course the only owner of these letters. After starting the project back in 2010 and releasing several tracks over the years, he has returned once more to inject some weird into our lives.

                First on the EP to mess you up is run.exe, a stop-start, twisted, experimental dance piece. Based on tumbling drums and distorted synths, it is fit for an underground, nuclear nightclub or a post-apocalyptic zombie film. It is absorbed by the following track, Antimatter, a laser-zapping, Space Invader number. With fuzzy experimental streaks, clashing against sporadic, popping melodies.

                Death Rattle continuously builds with an array of ascending melodies, before a darker bass tornadoes in, with a heavier rock god vibe. The deep set tones contrasting with the occasional echoing sonar in the background. The track then plunges into Damaged Goods- a one minute and a half power punch of white noise and plummeting drums.

                Penultimate track iamerror has a groove in the beat to begin, then it transforms into a robotic fairy tale- flicking between villainous metal, to a spacey video game soundtrack. Without a seconds pause, it flows perfectly into Central Market. With a background noise reminiscent of Pacman munching, it makes the entire room vibrate. Intricate and captivating- you can’t help but let it overflow into your brain.

                thisisldm- ƎP A˩T is a piece of experimental dance glory- daring to go beyond and explore the vast galaxy of beats and sound, for our listening pleasure.

It is available for free download at: https://thisisldm.bandcamp.com/releases

RINSE's Epic EP Launch

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September 27th || Bethan Shuff

A diverse bill hit The Underground on Saturday, bringing in a random selection of music lovers. This is my favourite kind of gig, where you get to watch one band’s fan base fall in love with a band they might never have seen before. There’s more band’s in Stoke than you think.

First on the stage was China Tanks. To look at, you probably wouldn’t have put the four lads together. Most bands are made up of collage mates or people you’ve met at gigs; but China Tanks have clearly formed on a love of what they do, and the chemistry between the members is evident the second they start playing. Bassist Michael Bloor sung the vocals of the first two tracks, one of which, entitled Why is to be released ‘very soon’. Why is definitely one of their more commercial tracks – a great single choice which slowly introduces you to their loud, raucous sound of dirty bass and Dan Shaw’s heavy drums. Tim Wood, one of the band’s two guitarists took over vocals for the energetic track Officially Suspicious, and David Poole sung the fourth track in the set list. It’s a rare occurrence when almost a full line up can sing, and so it’s brilliant to see that everyone’s talents are showcased and you never know what they’re going to pull out of the bag. Dan needs a special mention himself – this was his first gig with China Tanks, and after just over a month he’s nailed their back-catalogue; you’d never have known he was the newbie.

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After they smashed their headline the previous weekend, ALMA were still on a massive high and managed to squeeze all their bangers into a little half hour set. Copenhagen is a new tune finding its way into sets; with the response their latest release Plug In/Plug Out has received, could we be expecting an EP? If an EP is on the cards, and these two new tracks are anything to go by, it’d be bloody beautiful. ALMA are a band that give the people what they want; the cheeky laddish charm is a joy to watch as they all have a laugh on stage. ‘Who want’s Pacifier?’, Jack Kennedy knows exactly what the crowd wants, and he promises it’ll come in good time. It’s like a trademark finish for ALMA now, leaving their fans on a major high with the indie anthem from Catfish and The Bottlemen. Catch them quick before they go into hiding for a little while, their last for a while is October 20th and it won’t be boring – for one, it’s fancy dress.

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Hailing from Doncaster, but now based in Manchester was the fiery three-piece, Saintts. The gritty, grungey outfit stormed the stage with angry lyrics and filthy guitar tones with frontman Alex donning a Rinse t-shirt, you already know these guys are cool. Oh, and apparently Hanley’s Wetherspoons is the nicest they’ve seen. Saintts are a band with a message to tell, well, shout actually. Drummer Ben left his kit and grabbed hold of the mic whilst Alex and bassist Jack played some funky melody. He had a brief political rant before taking a mouthful or water, returning to the kit and spitting it out… over everyone. Whilst being soaked wasn’t the most pleasant, the water did make some pretty cool effects on the kit as Ben smashed down on the cymbals. Saintts baptised their new band name (formally just, Saints) at Stoke, perhaps the older, louder and grungier they get they’ll add more t’s?

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It’s been a long time since Rinse played Stoke, and boy, have we missed them. Celebrating the release of their debut EP ‘We Need To Talk’, Rinse came back in style with a funky new banner and the biggest of grins on their faces. They’ve had a busy summer playing festivals up and down the country from Dot to Dot, to Bristol Harbour Festival, to headlining our local We Stand Together festival. Rinse are one of the few lucky bands that have found their sound, developed it and are nailing it. Their sets are seamless and choreographed to a tee, with melodic riffs, punchy drums and Josh’s distinct and adored vocals. While the band are pretty serious about what they do, with a high level of professionalism, they ensure their live shows are not too serious – it’s important not to take yourself to seriously and that’s something Josh Hollingworth certainly knows as he gives Rich a cheeky kiss on stage and has a laugh with the crowd. After hearing the three new tracks on the EP digitally, I was excited to hear them live, and I’m sure everyone else was too. Velvet has already soared over 1500 listens on Soundcloud and is a clear fan favourite, so they saved it for the end of the set. Velvet is a gorgeous track which sends you on a rollercoaster, fellow Rebel, Leah Hamer said you are pulled back and forth until you are flung into the spaced-out, experimental build up, with distorted vocals and a groaning transition into the chorus - where every member lets rip’ and this was beautifully recreated on stage where you could see the lads giving it their all. Josh bent over his guitar, Ollie’s sticks flying across the kit, Josh Hassall going all in on the bass and Rich mastering the intricate guitar riffs. If you couldn’t make it to The Underground for this gig, then you seriously missed out – but you can still catch Rinse supporting King No One at The Sugarmill on Saturday 7 October.

Ryan McMullan at The Sugarmill

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September 26th || Bethan Shuff

You’ll usually find The Sugarmill’s sticky floor packed with sweaty students with beers flying left, right and centre, but Friday night was a different story. Around 50-60 people gathered on the lower floor greeted with a gorgeously lit stage with little glowing lamps on, patiently awaiting the first act.

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First on the bill was our local lad Jay Johnson. Travis Is A Tourist has been the touring support act for Ryan McMullan, but Jay contacted Ryan to ask if he could be on the bill and he was welcomed with open arms. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I’ve only ever seen Jay perform at festivals and larger events, so to see him at The Sugarmill was a totally different experience with a creative light show, sound techs and a more intimate atmosphere. His loop pedal plays a key part in his set, as he creates an ensemble of mini Jay’s during his tracks like Jigsaw Piece and his EP’s title track Summer Morning. His soulful voice and upbeat tracks elicited roars from the crowd, who were so impressed by the way one man seemed to fill an entire stage with sound and personality. For his final track, Jay created a beat and tune on his guitar before ditching it and picking up the microphone to perform Bones. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jay without a guitar in his hand, and for some musicians, a guitar is like a safety blanket, but this proved Jay’s confidence as he walked about the stage and could be more free and expressive.

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Next on the bill was the touring main support, Stephen Macartney; a warm soul with a charming Irish accent. His honesty and openness had the crowd non-stop giggling throughout the set as he told little anecdotes between songs. ‘This one’s about a girl who is a little bit amazing but I never told her that I thought she was a little bit amazing.’ He went on to tell us how he once introduced the track in front of her at a gig and she walked out. His National guitar created warm country vibes, complimenting stunningly effortless vocals. The laughing doesn’t even stop for the music, ‘this next verse makes me sound like I’m a stalker, I can assure you I’m not’. A lot of his tracks are based on subjects surrounding mental health and love; his pessimistic attitude and light-hearted humour makes him an incredibly loveable character. He decided against playing us a track called Everybody Kills Someone, and instead played the single from his forthcoming EP. After the set, he began to walk off with a beer in each hand with the crowd begging for just one more track – ever known the support act be demanded to do an encore? A modest Stephen came back onto the stage grinning from ear to ear, genuinely stunned at how much we’d enjoyed his company. I’d love to see Stephen return to Stoke.

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Fresh off Ed Sheeran’s Divide tour, Ryan McMullan takes to The Sugarmill as the headliner. He stood upon his little vintage rug, surrounded by these little glowing lights and bravely sung the opening track acapella. His versatility shone through as he effortlessly moved between instruments, playing a song or two on his acoustic guitar, followed by a track on keys. His voice projected around the room without the need for a microphone, with an atmosphere so silent you would have easily heard a pin drop (or a punters conversation). Mid-track, a noisy few were shushed by not only Ryan, but the audience, who were mesmerised by his playing. He mixed into his set, a gorgeous cover of the iconic track Maniac as well as playing a cover of Kings of Leon Use Somebody, getting the audience to sing along. The highlight of the set was an original track called You Don’t Dance, as well as Oh, Susannah, a single released earlier this year. He invited Travis and Stephen onto the stage to sing it with him, and it was lovely to involve Travis in the set seeing as he didn’t have his own slot. He has a very Ben Howard-esque voice and the three of them suited so well together, arms around each other like brothers. Ryan McMullan certainly showed the crowd why he’d been chosen to open Ed Sheeran’s EU tour, we were certainly a lucky few who got to witness the lovely little Sugarmill gig.

The Overcast- Smother

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September 25th || Bethan Shuff

After taking a year off, Stoke’s favourite pop-punk band The Overcast stormed back onto the scene in November 2016 and released Misery Loves Company (But It’s Better Under Lock And Key) a month later. Six months down the line and many a gig later, the band announced that they were in the process of making their self-produced debut EP, which is set to be released at the end of this year. For now, we are teased with their single, Smother; a taste of what to expect from the EP.

You may recognise the track from their live sets; for me it’s their signature track and the one I always look forward to seeing performed.

Dan Cartlidge’s angsty, punchy drums start the track, introducing a wave of dirty, invasive guitar strums from Sam Bloor and Jim Carter’s powerful vocals. Smother catches you off guard, grabs you by the shoulders and makes you listen.

The chorus softens, with Nick Farr’s rumbly bass line and Sam’s guitar playing a fast little melody behind Jim’s open and honest lyrics. BBC Stoke presenter Rob Adcock once told me, ‘you know a songs good when you find yourself singing it around the house and not realising’, and that’s the case with Smother’s chorus. It’s infectious.

The mid-8 brings a build-up of drums, a much more prominent bass and effects pedals, a build-up to Jim’s distant vocals before a stomp into a finishing chorus. You desperately don’t want it to be over. Luckily though, at the end of the year it will be accompanied by three other tracks on the EP, so you won’t have to sulk for too long.

The professionalism this band have is incredible, not only in terms of music production, but in performance, promotion, personality and appearance. The Overcast are the full package and if you get only one thing for Christmas, make it The Overcast’s EP. 

Psyence- Black Hole

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September 16th || Bethan Shuff

Back in February, Psyence took the title of Best Band at The Music Awards of Staffordshire and Cheshire. Shortly after, they proved why with their debut EP ‘A New Dawn’. Between then and now, Psyence have been busying themselves with some big name festivals like Tramlines, Sound Ciy and Festival Number 6. What we didn’t know was the behind the scenes Psyence were in the studio creating some magic and have popped out a single, the first of 2017: Black Hole. Sucked in yet? You will be.

Spacy guitars and reverb vocals invite you into the world of Psyence, the inner workings of their mastermind musical ventures. Listening to Psyence is like having an outer-body experience; it takes you to a new level of psychedelic trance you didn’t know existed. You are snapped back to reality by the sound of Joe Walsh’s kit and a funky little guitar lick.

Black Hole takes risks. Each segment of the track contrasting with the previous one, yet fitting in so well – you never know what direction it’s going to take next, but it’s the right one.

A kaleidoscope of trancy synths and swirling guitars are accompanied by the catchy hook of the chorus ‘someone save me I think I fell into a black hole’ Steve Pye sings, with soft echo backing vocals of ‘down I go again.’ This song will be circling around your head for days.

Not heard it yet? No problem. Check out Black Hole here:

Spoil Sport- Magpie

September 14th || Leah Hamer

Fresh meat. There’s nothing better. Well, if by meat you mean music, and by fresh you mean new, of course. A debut release is a chance for upcoming talent to make an imprint on society and tell us all who they really are. This is exactly what all-female four-piece Spoil Sport have done with Magpie.

Let’s be honest, Stoke have been gagging for a girl-band around here for yonks. And not a bunch of squeaky, silicone, badly contoured princesses lip-syncing either. I mean proper cool lasses that dare to be different and chose to make interesting and intriguing music- which is exactly what the members of Spoilsport are and do.

Fuzzing feedback opens the track, with a ghostly voice singing in the distance like an eerie enchantress. Then the juicy riff comes thudding in, with flickers of a distorted guitar and a dense bass line following. A steady drum beat pours in afterwards before the volume is stripped back, to make way for the colossal vocals of Agatha Riley. The simple and short verse structure prepares you for the punch of the dramatic chorus- as all the instruments parade back in with the repetitive and quirky vocals, Black and white fly over me/Black and white come set me free. The lyrics are loaded with curiosity and mystique, yet remain catchy and memorable.

Deep and dusky, the rest of the track continues- experimenting with light and dark sound, pulsating in and out of your speakers. There are sprinkles of Wolf Alice and Yeah Yeah Yeahs throughout with all of the band members holding the same badass image, sound and attitude of their respective frontwomen. Imagine four Ellie Rowsells or four Karen Os.

A remarkable aspect of this is the maturity that the entire band have brought into the studio- this does not sound like an amateur debut, it has been crafted with thought and imagination, helped even more by the skillful hands of Sam Bloor at Lower Lane. Spoil Sport are a powerhouse of talent already.

Engaging, intelligent and addictive- Magpie is a piece of bliss and Spoil Sport are ones not to miss.            

Magpie by Spoilsport will be available to stream and download soon.

Spoiled- Even They Would Not Sit Back And Do Nothing

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September 15th || Leah Hamer

They say one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Not for Luke Medlock though. After showing his prowess in All The Best Tapes and being the photo/video whiz behind so many well-loved local creations, he is venturing into the big wide world of solo work with his latest project, Spoiled. Fresh from the studio with Sam Bloor as the mixing man, here is his debut release, Even They Would Not Sit Back and Do Nothing.

With a distorted fuzz the track plummets into a black hole of destruction. The gravelled scream of Luke claws its way into your ear drums- well, what remains of them. There’s no messing around with this one- straight in there with the chaos, none of this messing around with an intro malarkey. The intensity and volume is overwhelming as the gnarly guitar and deafening drums explode all around you. Screeches of feedback and symbols bashing up and down surround your consciousness, even for the remaining moments after the song has turned silent. With filthy guitar solos and relentless vocals, it is hard to comprehend that this is all just one bloke in a studio.

Luke in general is a pleasant human who likes dogs and taking photos, so to hear him unleash such aggression is compelling, to say the least. But his talent undoubtedly needs to be remarked upon- flying solo is by no means an easy task and to be so proficient in so many musical elements definitely requires some applause from us all.

Dirty and invasive, Even They Would Not Sit Back and Do Nothing has given Luke a platform to showcase his diverse skill set. Spoiled is a project that we need more from.

Even They Would Not Sit Back and Do Nothing is out on Monday 18th September.

 

Alma Smash Headliner

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September 13th || Bethan Shuff

When hearing who was on the bill for ALMA’s single launch, I was so excited. Four of Stoke-on-Trent’s talented young bands all in one place for a measly £5 – what more can you ask for? That’s the price of a pint at most gigs. Can you imagine how gutted I was when I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it? Luckily for you (and me), I did make it and I’m here to tell you all about it.

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First on was Spoil Sport, Stoke’s only girl band. By girl band I don’t mean Girls Aloud or The Saturdays. These four fierce females have got attitude, sass and grunge; the best kind of girl band. I’ve seen the girl’s play as a three piece before, but I was excited to see them in their full form. Some technical difficulties prior to starting disappointed the girls, who wanted to make a sharp and hard-hitting first impression to their audience – an audience that was the largest I’ve seen for an opening band, which speaks volumes about Spoil Sport. Agatha’s dark, moody vocals with slow, deep basslines set the grungey mood for the evening. Tiff and Fliss’ guitars bounce off one another to create melancholic melodies, whilst Meg’s drums keep everything together. I’m A Bitch and a cover of Miley CyrusWrecking Ball were amongst the set, and due to finishing ahead of schedule, Tiff, Agatha and Fliss performed a fun, relaxed cover of Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana. The vibes I get from Spoil Sport are so empowering and it’s so refreshing to have a female-only line-up in our male-dominated music scene. If there’s one thing we need more of, it’s fiery females like these guys.

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‘Hello, we’re Nirvana UK’ Sam Bloor laughed as The Overcast took to the stage and set up their gear. The Overcast don’t just turn up at a gig and play, these guys put on a show and perform. The amount of energy Jim Carter expends exhausts me just watching him; his stage presence is second to none as he moves from each side of the stage with a voice so powerful I don’t know how his lungs don’t collapse. The relationship between the band members is obvious; these four friends are just doing what they love and doing it bloody well. Sam Bloor’s backing vocals compliment Jim’s perfectly and his guitar tones are filthy. Nick Farr’s quick fingers make easy work of the intricate bass lines and he still manages to bounce around like it’s nothing. Each member puts their everything into every track, I mean, the photos of Dan Cartlidge’s drum face will tell you that much. Smother, a single from The Overcast’s upcoming EP found itself on the set list, and is set to be released at the end of the month; it went down a treat with the ever-growing crowd and you’re going to love it too.

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 Plastic took the main support slot, returning to Stoke as a five piece after Connor Hamilton joined the line-up last month. During the set Connor showed why Plastic took him on, he played the bands catalogue with ease, as though he’d been there from the start and he makes a cracking addition to the sound. Plastic is another band whose performance is on another level – hair is flicked and bodies shaken, it’s as though the music has possessed Matt Awbery as he stares into the souls of the audience, spits and rolls around in the crowd. It’s a set I won’t be forgetting any time soon. One thing I loved about the band that it wasn’t all about the frontman – don’t get me wrong, Matt has an incredibly solid persona, but the band took it in turns to chat into the mic and have a laugh with each other so we got a feel for their personalities. ‘This is I’ve Been Floating, it’s about taking a load of drugs’ Matt introduces a wavey psychedelic intro with slow and floaty guitars; it takes a dark turn and a vortex of heavy guitars and thunderous drums comes crashing down on you. Plastic have some big plans in the pipeline for the end of the year; the biggest thing they’ve ever done. Keep your eyes and ears open.

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It was finally time for ALMA to head up on stage, coming in through the side door like pro’s. The floor of The Exchange was packed to capacity with no room for movement as ALMA alone had sold over 100 tickets. ALMA have had a few line-up changes in the past, but this one is strong. The band have found their sound and are killing it. Plug In/Plug Out was released last week, and further releases will follow in its footsteps getting bigger and better. That doesn’t mean that the band are neglecting their old works though. Tracks like Help Me and Taken For A Fool have had a re-vamp for their live performances and still fit in nicely with the new single as ALMA experiment with different tones and effects. Sam Fieldhouse has really developed his own style and Ross Litherland’s guitar slots into place and fixes everything together. I can honestly say that James Whitehurst is one of Stoke’s best drummers for his age, watching his hands fly through complicated combinations, solos and unusual time signatures is mesmerising. Jack Kennedy is your typical cheeky chap, having a laugh with his mates in the crowd and giving us what we wanted. Between the original songs we were presented with a rocked up cover of Rhythm of the Night, where Jack invited a few audience members onto the stage with him. Chants of ‘Pacifier! Pacifier! Pacifier!’ from the crowd were too loud to ignore, and so ALMA finished their set with the Catfish and The Bottlemen track. Sweaty and exhausted, the band left the stage, leaving behind an exhilarating buzz as teenagers piled out into the smoking area to congratulate the lads.

ALMA are heading somewhere big, and plan on taking their music out of Stoke and making themselves known around the UK, but know ‘Stoke will always take preference.’ You can listen to Plug In/Plug Out here: 

Marquee's Huge Headliner

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September 11th || Leah Hamer

The first fresh meat of the evening was Undercurrent- a band composed of several musicians who have all been previously active in other local music ventures. On Friday they climbed aboard the ship for the first time as a fuzzy, heavy three-piece with a purpose to create volume and attitude. Jitters and inhibition did not appear apparent, as bassist Mitchell Dowley launched himself around the venue with his wireless Stingray, diving into the crowd to kiss a bloke named Barry. Seb Clarke on vocals suited this darker genre and found ways to intrigue the audience with his Jazz, as he played around with the feedback and tinkered with the electrical circuits of the guitar to make industrial beeping sounds. Drummer Ryan Dawkins was extremely proficient as he impressively mastered an odd time signature and remained tight throughout. There were glimmers of potential across the board with tracks like Wake Up, but amongst this were some timing issues and undefined melodies – yet these are issues that will fade with regular gigging and writing.

Straight out of the garage came second act Plunge, a wavy indie four-piece, also forged from the pieces of numerous other local bands. With a trendy, current style that was lapped up by the teenage audience, it was clear from the start that Plunge would fit in seamlessly into the Stoke scene. Frontman Ewan Wilcox has this strong, accented, talky voice that suits the band perfectly.  The rest of the band performed decent riffs and steady beats, but they have room to get more creative and imaginative. Slow, swaying numbers simmered away at the start, until they performed a cover of Gold by Jaws which seemed to ignite a spark in them all. After that the set was electric and engaging with tracks like Tomorrow Is Another Day. The four-piece flourished as the lights turned red, they shook off the nerves and felt the full magnitude of what they had achieved. It was a debut to be proud of, yet confidence needs to be injected into these guys now- a burst of energy and colour into their systems will liven up the entire performance and give them a chance to stand out.

Shropshire four-piece, Social Confusion, entered the stage next- bringing a flash of Brit pop to the evening. The most mature of the bands, they had a vast skill set and striking armoury- with the bassist boasting a damn fine Rickenbacker (alongside his Pickle Rick shirt). Teamed with Fred Perry’s and Pretty Green, they knew their sound and stuck to it. Pure, anthemic, repetitive 90s indie with power-to-the-people lyrics and quick riffs. They were a clear call back to the traditional sound of the Stoke scene. At times the songs blended into one but no one seemed to mind- the crowd were wild for them- climbing on each-other’s shoulders and spraying cans everywhere. The band lapped up every second of it.

Finally came the headliners, Marquee, who were itching to get onto that stage after selling a whopping amount of tickets. The crowd trampled in as their walk on hip hop tune blasted through the speakers. The four-piece were in their element immediately as guitarist/vocalist Kieran Breese charmed the crowd and they kicked into their upbeat rap mix led by Calum Lightfoot, Throw It Back. They chucked in a few covers ranging from Arctic Monkeys to The Beatles to The Hives- all of which were tricky to pull off, especially on drums- yet Alex Grant managed them with ease. Admittedly there were some errors- primarily with an out of tune guitar, but the band owned up to this with admirable honesty and made light of the situation. Full of swag and attitude, the band soaked up the limelight- interacting with the crowd, jumping off the stage, and bashing out the people-pleasing numbers that their fans knew word for word. On the night they announced that the rest of their day had been spent recording an EP in a professional setting- the news that everyone wanted to hear. As some of the band members and many of their fans prepare to enter a life of work and university, it was a gig for all of them to remember.

Alma- Plug In Plug Out

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9th September || Bethan Shuff

Over the past year, ALMA have been finding their feet, securing their line-up and searching for their sound. They’ve found it.

Plug In/Plug Out crackles and distorts its way through the speakers until the melodic guitars start to break through the noise. Young producer and Fears Chella frontman Andy Gannon worked his magic on this intro for the ALMA lads.

James Whitehurst behind the kit, a funky beat created with a brass drum builds up the intro and wavey guitars drop into a dirty, distorted riff. This is nothing like their previous releases; their EP ‘Last Orders’ was full of young, teenage angst, where their last single Help Me was chilled out and cool. Plug In/Plug Out proves ALMA have grown, matured and developed their sound into something dangerously cool and modern, experimenting with different sounds and making their mark in the local music scene.

‘Plug me in / Plug me out / Do what you want to’ the catchiest of choruses over the contagious dream pop, grungy guitar of Sam Fieldhouse with Ross Litherland’s subtle deep bass. Jack Kennedy’s vocals are so fresh and relaxed; he tells me the track is ‘about people moving in and out of your life, quite literally as if they plugged themselves in and out whenever it suits them. We feel like that is something people experience, especially in our later teenage years.’

I keep seeing ALMA go from strength to strength, and they’ve really hit the nail on the head with Plug In/Plug Out. You can catch it live at The Exchange tonight, Saturday 9th September for their headline gig, with support from Plastic, The Overcast and Spoil Sport. You’d be a fool to miss it.

RINSE- We Need To Talk

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September 8th || Leah Hamer || Lee Barber

After spending the last few months wisely plotting and stroking their beards behind the scenes, local boys RINSE have been widely missed. Their name has been scribed across the bills of world renowned festivals such as Dot to Dot and the Bristol Harbour Festival this summer, all whilst they have been cruelly teasing fans with the promise of their debut EP. The day has finally arrived and one thing is for sure- We Need To Talk.

                A dreamy trickle of strings begins the opening track, More Than Friends. A tornado of drums swoops in and cranks up the volume before the distinctive vocals of Josh Hollingworth plunge in. Lyrics of failing love are intertwined with high twangs on guitar before a nail-biting build-up of elements leads you to a welcomed surprise. Contrary to your expectations, the chorus arrives to be stripped back and calm- an intelligent and effective choice. With sporadic symbols, a killer Josh Hassall bass line and an occasional hazy guitar providing the back drop to the desperate and hopeful words, I know we could be more than friends. Then a tumbling mountain of guitar and drums explode into the verse once again before the chorus returns, this time with double the production that we expected the first time round.

                RINSE tap deftly into the realms of 90’s Brit-pop and grunge music in second track, Citadel, with droney chord progressions on electric guitar, swiftly carrying you swaying through the ballad. Hollingworth’s vocals are as gently prominent as ever, laced with chorus call undertones, while Hewitt’s guitar style is without a doubt coming into its own, with his cunning riffs and great use of pedals making his guitar play almost a sound you can instantly recognise as his. As with all the other band members, Hewitt’s modesty probably makes him to be one of the most under-rated guitar players in his hometown.

                That famous RINSE guitar twang opens up closing track, Velvet, in a lightning intro, before the stomping and hearty drum beat of Ollie McNicholas flies solo with the verse vocals. Fluctuating between a fast-paced guitar and a steady staccato vocal line, you are pulled back and forth until you are flung into the spaced-out, experimental build up, with distorted vocals and a groaning transition into the chorus- where every member lets rip. Velvet is perfectly executed tight-rope walk, balancing between the tranquil, trippy grunge and the all-out, guns-blazing power playing, that this EP has reflected throughout.

                With this EP, RINSE have proficiently mastered their signature sound, whilst managing the delicate art of creating individuality within every track, showing absurd talent from every member in the process. We Need To Talk is definitely one to talk about.  

We Need To Talk is out now and is available to stream and download on the usual platforms

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Love Spoons By Dylan Cartlidge

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Martin Gooding || September 7th

Dylan Cartlidge is a name that will soon be escaping from a lot of lips. The Middleport born, North East based MC has dropped his latest single Love Spoons and it's something truly special.
Multi Instrumentalist Cartlidge spirals through the track with a chaotic energy channeling equal parts Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Andre 3000, smothered in Midlands charm. Clearly as comfortable delivering complex bars and thoughtful lyricism as he is creating catchy, funk-laiden hooks dripping with pop sensibilities and jazz energies.
Keep your eyes on this one, a truly unique talent

Love Spoons is available on most platforms via the link below

https://lnk.to/LoveSpoons

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Filth Headline The Underground

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Leah Hamer || August 22nd

After conjuring up quite a reputation for themselves in the past few months of their lives on the scene, Filth returned to The Underground- the venue that granted them their first ever gig, only this time- it was all about them. First on the bill was punk trio- Feedback, but the first band I caught were grunged up kids, Keys.

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                After forming earlier in the year, and adding the talents of Rewenge’s former guitarist Ellis Gibbons to the mix last month, things have been looking promising for the alternative four-piece. Keys brought to the stage comical song names like Jim’ll Riff It, an infectious energy, a strong drum beat, and a sense of how to perform robust riffs that are the shining points of each song, especially Ocean. With fuzzy tones and dark rhythms, it soon became apparent who this alt-foursome’s main influence was, but if it wasn’t clear enough- they performed a cover. Tackling Wolf Alice’s Giant Peach could only be forgiven if it was executed perfectly. Sadly, it was not- it was messy and lacked clarity. If covers are a path they want to explore again- they need to think outside of the box and pick something outrageous and turn it into their own. Yet they picked themselves up with a string of originals that continued to show shimmers of potential like Come DownKeys are young and have plenty of time to perfect their art and mature on stage, but they need to get back in the garage and practice until their fingers bleed.

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                An all-female band around here has been long overdue, then out of the blue- Spoilsport came crashing onto the scene, bagging gigs left, right and centre. A haze of fishnets and glitter entered the stage, with stone expressions and calm dispositions. Then the colossal voice of Agatha Riley silenced the crowd. Powerful, established and deep with stimulating vocal lines- she was the initial pull of the entire band. Then the rest got into the groove- with simplistic chords and riffs that complimented each other without being too aggressive or ballsy. They showed a clear understanding of how to create fresh, interesting and demanding tracks. They too chose to do a cover- but not one that you would expect, Wrecking Ball. It was nearly unrecognisable after they had absorbed it- turning it into a moody, 90s grunge piece that they could have passed off as an original number.  I’m Such A Bitch was full of honest brutality that gave them likeability, and their final track Magpies, was well performed, despite being written the day before. Now its practice practice time so they can smooth out the mistakes and get themselves ready for a serious session in the studio. A release from these girls is a necessity and I can’t wait.  

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                Finally the main attraction, Filth, took to the spotlight- with a downsized line up, after losing their former singer and bassist Jack taking on the new role up front. The crowd went wild as they performed tracks from their debut EP-Filth, SDA, and Fade Out- all teenage anthems about adolescent anarchy. Jack is a hidden gem, with a cool tone and suitable pitch for their style- and his talent will only grow with confidence. He performed with a baritone six-string guitar, an interesting choice that perhaps needs consideration, as with that he lacks the depth of a regular bass that would give them heavier vibe. As well as this, he switched back and forth to the synth- where his skills truly hide. The synth is definitely something they really need to incorporate more. When it was used it gave them an incredible edge and identity but Jack unfortunately only has one pair of hands and lacks the useful ability to play both simultaneously! Another member might need to be added in order for them to really accentuate this element of their sound.

Lewis was brimming with talent on lead guitar- with an ear for captivating riffs and plethora of effects at his disposal. Teamed with his Gretsch, he tinkers with distortion, wah, fuzz, reverb and delay constantly- he is the entire key to the Filth sound. His solo work was vastly impressive. It was amazing to witness him play one-handed and with the guitar behind his head- but he did these hyper, tricky solos far too often. He needs to hold onto that special stuff until the finale to blow us all away even more. Drummer Adam was tight throughout- the glue holding everything together. The crowd loved every second- girls were on top of lads’ shoulders, drinks were flying, and even the Jeremy Corbyn rant made an appearance. Ending on Bitch, they finished the set off with another lightning solo and mosh pit- a massively successful headliner for a band that have come a very long way.

You can listen to their debut EP, Filth, here: 

Divenire- Quaint Romance

Leah Hamer || August 18th

To witness the growth of a band is always a priceless pleasure. As they soar from venue to venue, develop their sound, forge their fan base and perfect their media image- it is a joyful experience to watch a band truly up their game. With their latest single Quaint Romance, Divenire have done just that.

The birth of Divenire was hasty and unexpected- overnight their line-up and name had changed, forcing them to work to work their way up the ranking system of local musicians once again. After the releases of their popular tracks, Arcade and Caravan, the boys cemented their place in the scene. Now, however, the charming four-piece have unleashed their brightest work to date.

The raspy, pop vocals of Dom Morgan open the track with confidence. With sweet guy-meets-girl lyrics, they remain true to their heart, continuing to create teen love songs that remind you of butterfly riddled stomachs and sweaty palms. Then the trendy melody of the guitars roll in from Dom and Josh Holmes. The verse plods on steadily before the dynamic chorus springs on you, with its edgy tones and popping dance-beat. Pulling away from standard structures, the second verse is full of impact and flows into the chorus once again seamlessly.

The track ends with echoing backing vocals and wavy distortion, bringing it all together in a polished and precise manner. Like a diamond pulled from the rough, Divenire have come out of Lower Lane Studios in their best condition yet. They have been wise students in the past few months- new graphics, new website, new image, new tracks, new attitude. They are clued up and ready to go.

 After their debut headliner went down a treat back in June, the charming four-piece are returning to soak up the limelight on September 1st, returning to The Sugarmill once again.

Quaint Romance is available to stream and download now: hyperurl.co/QuaintRomance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Release Unleash Hell On The Sugarmill

Credit: Ben Hough 

Credit: Ben Hough 

Ben Hough || August 17th

The day arrived for Release's headline show at The Sugarmill. Release haven't been in Stoke since they last played at The Sugarmill supporting Idles in May, so the crowd anticipated for another adrenaline packed performance by Release with support from ALMA, Postal and a Bonsai acoustic set. As the barriers went up, the crowd packed in.

Credit: Ben Hough

Credit: Ben Hough

First to the stage was Bonsai's lovable front man Chris Hough to play a few songs on an acoustic guitar. As he sits on the stage, he introduces the first song of the night. A cover of Run by Stephen Fretwell which is more commonly known for the theme song of Gavin and Stacey. People stop to listen as his voice fills the room. Chris then plays a few songs that he has written himself. Songs like 'Flowers on the shelf' really show his love and passion for his own work. The guitar playing from Chris wasn't perfect but it wasn't an issue as his strong vocals and thoughtful lyrics were the main attention of his performance. After three songs, Chris invites Bonsai's guitarists Joe Hough and Richard Brown to join him on stage. Brown's usual Fender Stratocaster is replaced with an acoustic whilst Joe plays lead work on his electric gweet. The next song played was 'Fruit Shoot', a song brought out by Bonsai earlier this year as a full band. The tune did miss its funky bassline and complex drum beat but Brown and Joe played tight enough to bring a full sound. Bonsai are hoping to release an E.P later in the year which includes all 4 songs they played. Songs such as 'Yesterdays Tomorrow', had a slow intro with soothing vocal melodies before the song progresses into a powerful chorus outro. I can see this one being popular amongst the fans. Bonsai will return as a full band to the Sugarmill on the 2nd September to Headline a charity event set up for Musicians Against Homelessness.

Credit: Ben Hough

Credit: Ben Hough

Next on was Indie Grunge Band Postal for their second live show. The four lads were slightly nervous before playing but they soon found their element. Cam Livesey is their lead vocalist who has an alternative tone to his voice, influenced by American punk rock. Tom Waters is their only guitarist. He plays clean bar chords with a nice distortion sound to fill out the chorus. Bass heavy riffs are the pinnacle of Postal's sound, provided by Dave Paxton. Tom Clarke, otherwise known as Gavin, keeps the band tight from the back. The bass drum of Clarke's kit complements Paxton's rhythms on the bass as he navigates the fretboard. In the third song, titled 'Jon Jones' Livesey's vocals a sometimes hard to comprehend but the tone of his voice shows potential for great things in the future. As soon as this band get more confidence behind them, they could go a long way in the local music scene. Gavin drops his drum sticks towards the end of the tune but revives himself quickly and to the untrained ear, it was unnoticeable. Postal played a cover of The Clash's 'Should I stay or Should I Go' accurate to the original record. This cover suited the style of Postal and was sang well by Livesey. My personal favourite was their recently brought demo, Chemical Dive (find it on soundcloud). This song was played very tightly as the crowd sang back the leading vocal line. Watch out for more Postal this year as they make their way on to the scene.

Credit: Ben Hough

Credit: Ben Hough

The notorious boys from ALMA were up next. After a spell of local headline gigs, they return to The Sugarmill as main support for Release. Their electric indie rock sound livens up crowd as the moshing starts. Jack Kennedy sings and plays bass guitar with style and confidence. James Whitehurst plays solid beats on the drums, their second song of the night was 'Taken for a Fool'- the song starts slowly with intricate licks from both guitarists, Ross Litherland and Sam Fieldhouse. The well-known chorus kicks in as the crowd sing back to Kennedy. Jack is one of Stokes finest young front-men but I think that his true potential is restricted by playing the bass guitar. Let's just say he is no Paul McCartney, but a real talent in the making. ALMA love to get the crowd involved. One thing they do particularly well is tease the audience by stopping, letting the guitars ring out, and kicking back in with plenty of overdrive provided by Litherland and Fieldhouse. The crowd loved it! 'Help me' is another one of ALMA's popular songs. After seeing this band several times, this is the best I've heard them play this song. Whitehurst stays tight throughout with no mistakes. He is the newest addition to ALMA's lineup and he's had a great impact so far. As Kennedy rolls up his sleeves, ALMA break into their final song. Fieldhouse's solo proves him as a great guitarist, his squealing guitar captivates the audience. ALMA's sound can be hard to pull off, but they certainly did tonight. Catch ALMA for their headline show at The Exchange on September 9th.

Credit: Ben Hough

Credit: Ben Hough

OI OI! Release are back where they belong. 2017 has been a great year for Release getting out of town. You can feel the excitement build up as the crowd awaits their performance. 'Donald Punk' is their opener and it has everything you can think of. Mayson Nicholson uses a slide to create a distinctive sound on the guitar. Jack Mitchell rocks the violin solo. Punk Rock with a violin, I know, I've never heard anything like this either. Then Tom Price sends an exhilarating drum fill to finish the song. What a Talent! 'C U Next Time' is a fast-paced song in all departments. Lead Vocalist, Caleb Allport, doesn’t stay still for a second. A great presence to add to their chaotic sound. Allport's vocals have just the right balance between punky and melodic. From watching this artist, I can tell one of his main influences is Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine, but he gives it his own British twist with a distinctive tone. 'Publik Urination' was played with a pre-lude which proves there is a diverse nature about Release's set. The intro that everyone knows drops and the room packs with energy. When a band look like they enjoy their set, then so does the crowd. Release made a great example of this. Mitchell and his violin return to the stage for 'Ip Dip Dog Sh*t' which makes the sound even bigger. Allport ventures into the busy crowd but professionally, he remains in the zone.

Credit: Ben Hough 

Credit: Ben Hough 

Release had a great year in 2016 after bringing out their second E.P. Including songs like 'Back to the ol' Routine' which they had to play, along with 'Neat Seat'. These two songs, in contrast, display great vocal range and versatility from Allport. Nicholson uses a selection of loop and delay pedals to create a great noise. By this point in the set, his nipples are on display. Release also won single of the year at the 2016 Staffordshire and Cheshire Music Awards with their next song of the night, 'The Inevitable'. The crowd erupts as the violin melody comes in. The violin is such a beautiful instrument and Mitchell plays it with utter finesse, using his fingers to create harmonics. This is what makes Release so unique! Aaron Roden is a very technical bass player. He uses his musical head to work a synth and a backtrack into the mix. The last three songs of Release's set are expected to be a part of their third coming E.P this year. Their new song, 'Repetition Repetition' had a few technical difficulties, but it didn't stop them. They kicked into their next song, 'A Man Who Hated God' before finishing with 'Up in the Skies', my favourite song of the night. The vocal melody provided by Allport captures all kinds of emotions. I struggled to be constructive on Release's set on Friday night. From the beginning the boys were on top form. A great prospect with a unique sound and a truly amazing performance.

Credit: Ben Hough 

Credit: Ben Hough 

 

 

 

Leo Fest 2017

Ben Nixon || August 10th

Photography || John Morris

Deep in the labyrinth of Stoke-on-Trent’s heart, a new presence is making waves. As my senses guide me, deeper and deeper, I see it. Birth: the creation of a new asset, another facet of our exponentially growing music scene. Leo Fest. The hype had been building in anticipation of the event. Alongside, the pressure of great responsibility. Leo Fest projects a great strength, the potential to ignite the scene, to be one of the greatest events in the city. And it was.

The location, Trentham Rugby Club. A cautious curiosity shadowed my mind, questions arose: How is the space going to be used effectively? Will it work?

Day 1. As I arrive at the location, I walk down a narrow lane, and through heavy gates, I feel the warm pulse of House flowing in the air. My senses take over. I follow the sound. The dubbed ‘Mane Stage’ is in sight, provided by WonkStock & WoNk coordinator, Tim Simmons. Bodies flood around, the atmosphere thick as the torrents of rain. Not that this stopped me or anyone from having an epic time. I find Liz Mathews, the event Coordinator and main brain behind Leo Fest. A nervous excitement animating her (as a fellow event organiser, I knew how she felt). We were joined Event Managers, Eve Sweetmore and Rich Brown, each in equal anticipation of the unfolding event. My first instincts, left me feeling impressed that so much had been achieved in so little time and the atmosphere was pumping.

Later, I decided to explore, to see what other treasures Leo Fest still hid. I headed to the club house to find the ‘InRoar Stage’ (and most importantly, the bar). The names of the stages show the organisers' humorous side. Dubbing the stage names in relation to the event name. Great move. It works. On the side of the building, a familiar banner from Music Store Pro, who had generously provided a lighting rig for the event. If you haven’t visited MSP yet, then do so. As a musician, and event organiser, they have everything you need. And they're awesome people!

I managed to catch a few of the artists in action inside: Rich Redwin (also one of the organisers), James Johnson, Martin Gooding, Satisfiction, and Afterburner - who all blew me completely out of the water with the sheer quality of entertainment they provided. However, there was one band that night that had me in anticipation from the moment I knew they were playing: 10o’clock Chemical. I headed back over to the ‘Mane Stage’ for their headline set at 10p.m (nice!) and was left in wonder by various projections and lights gleaming in night sky. These wonders were provided by up and coming lighting magician, Adam Till, and his company, Opticool Illusions. A beautiful display.

The monstrous sound system stood tall and proud to the right of the stage. was brought in by Ash Henderson at Sirius Sound Systems who, like Adam, are gaining a reputation for their talents. 10o’clock Chemical descended onto the stage, launching into their electrifying set. Everyone felt it. The Universe felt it. A great set and a fitting finale to the first day of Leo Fest. Day 2. I braced myself for the second round. Early afternoon. I approached the gates: I could hear the party in full swing. The weather stuck out for the most of the day, seemed to draw in new audience already seduced by the festival's spirit. Unfortunately, I was on a time constraint,but I got to see a few artists: Jim McShee, Big Face (Nic Andrews), Grant Foster, Dj Liam Banks and John Paul Green, Macious - who were all epic!

A fire is growing in the musicians of our great city. you can sense it, see it in their performances. The one set that stuck out unlike any other was from the legend that is, Carl Wilson, (aka CJ, aka Dr Carl), who was backed by Ash Wall, Jim MyCock and Norman Sole. Carl is a rare spirit that has graced the lives of many and his energy and his contagious humour. The crowd were absolutely mental - roaring with laughter, lost in the show. Unfortunately, I couldn’t experience the rest of the day as I had prior commitments to attend.

The reports from the following day echoed what a stomper of night took place. I managed to watch a live video of Captain Stingray’s Grove Machine and Anu’s set, it was full on rave and everyone was emerged fully into the Leofest vibe. Give it a go. The Finale. I arrive slightly late to the festival, the atmosphere still basking in its hectic glory yet juxtaposed by a fresh relaxed energy that now surrounded us all. It was just the ‘Mane Stage’ operating today and it promised to end the event in style. I witnessed the sets of; Tofty & Bennet, TVP (Trent Vale Poet), Julia Mosley, John Dhali, Goya, Deluge and Kitsune.

Immense. Every single last one of them. The end. Liz wanted to give special thanks to the following: Jay Tilly, Stu James, Dan Elsmore, Andy Pickett, Mark Bradley, John Morris, Adam Till, Mark Crawford. This city is a beautiful one. You find yourself being constantly inspired and you realise how extraordinary the people forged in it are. To the creators, organisers and artistes of Leo Fest, congratulations. You have just pulled off something wonderful that will have big implications for the city.

I encourage anyone with a new idea to step forward with it, make yourself known. You could be playing a part in the progression of not only you, but your city and beyond. You will never know if you never try and ideas remain static without motion.

** Principle of Stretch - “If you can, you can’t. If you haven’t, you must” **

Thieves Asylum Launch New Single In Style

Emily Jones || August 9th

Thieves Asylum have had an indescribable few months. Fresh from the back of a string of brand new single releases, including the epic ‘Look Inside’, the four-piece are quite literally taking the local music scene by storm.

And on Friday night at The Exchange in Hanley, that very storm tore through Stoke-on-Trent as Thieves Asylum headlined (and conquered) the night.

Things began steadily with Misovia, a young four-piece alternative rock band, filling the opening slot. They performed original tracks including ‘Untitled 5’, ‘Why Bother’ and ‘Retrospect’, as well as a brand new instrumental track built from a colourful spectrum of layers. Although still very much in their early stages as a band and with areas to build on, Misovia carry a great amount of potential.

Bonsai were the second and final support for the evening, another band with something of a buzz surrounding them. They opened their set with ‘Clowes Avenue’, their most recent single, before settling comfortably into the music with tracks such as ‘Eskibar’ and ‘Fruit Shoot’. “If anyone feels slightly shit about themelves”, said front man Chris Hough to the crowd, referring to ‘Yesterday’s Tomorrow’, the penultimate track of their set, “then listen to this and it’ll make you feel happy”.

As Bonsai stepped off stage and the crowds began to gather, a feeling of anticipation and excitement hung heavy in the air. The large “THIEVES ASYLUM” banner that hung behind the stage, appeared more prominent now than it had done on my arrival. Smoke machines, lighting rigs and ground shaking walk-on music were in place and you just knew that you weren’t going to be able to forget this band and this night, too easily.

As Joey Tomasso, James Perry, Dan Thompson and Alex Grocock took their positions, standing like soldiers about to commence battle, they revved up their instruments and ripped straight into their set. This confidence was something I had never seen in them before, with each member providing a vital, well-rehearsed and tightly executed slice of the Thieves Asylum sound. ‘Reflections’, ‘IKYKIK’, ‘Noc Noc’ and ‘Just A Flame’ stood out as being some of the best live tracks I’ve witnessed this year and their adoring crowd, consisting of fans old and new, lapped up every inch.

It was this very confidence that helped them smoothly brush over a minor technical difficulty, leaving them to smash through the rest of their set with professionalism and sheer enjoyment. Tomasso looked comfortable on stage, as did the rest of the band, losing himself occasionally in the music he was making. As they entered the final track of their set, the prodigious ‘Look Inside’, their strongest release to date, Thieves Asylum were full of fire. With strong releases and an identifiable and ever-increasing sound, the four-piece are now well-cemented into the local music scene and stand like a towering beacon of all that is good and mighty with this city and its music.