Arcadia EP Launch Goes Down a Treat
Chloe Symcox || September 8th
After a month a way from gigging to write and record a new EP, the boys in Arcadia struck back onto the scene with a headline gig they will remember forever. Being their second hometown headliner, the boys knew they had to put on a show. Support came from Alex Webb, Jupiter’s Beard and BlackWaters.
The first to come onto the stage was 17-year-old Alex Webb; an acoustic act that I’m sure will find more gigs after his performance. He came onto the stage and appeared shy at first, then as he played the first few notes of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box”, all the shyness that was there disappeared instantly. His voice was completely unexpected as he soared to notes you wouldn’t think he could reach. He went on to do a few more covers including Royal Blood, Amy Winehouse and Estelle. Definitely a great way to start the night off.
Next on to the stage were Jupiter’s Beard, who opened with a cover of I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses, a song that they knew would get everyone grooving. They have a very distinctive sound about them, evident in their song ‘Amy’; it’s a mix between 50s/60s rock and roll and new alternative and indie music. They went on to play more originals, and cover Live Forever and Champagne Supernova by Oasis, which they nailed effortlessly.
The penultimate act of the night was BlackWaters, from Guilford. From the get go, they thrashed around the stage, setting the vibe of the night. Upbeat drums and fast yet intricate guitar riffs, with the bass driving through the tracks, it was indie-punk at its finest. Taking influence from bands like Drenge and Fidlar, the vocals were true honest punk, but there was also this sung indie vibe that came from Max (vocalist). The crowd went mental throughout pretty much the entire set, which set the night in motion. After playing Leeds Festival on the BBC Introducing Stage, the guys have a lot of gigs coming up, definitely a band to keep an eye on.
Finally, it was Arcadia’s turn to show Stoke-on-Trent that they mean business. Recent addition to the band, Seb Clarke, came onto the stage by himself, confusing everybody. He waltzed up to the synth and hit one note that just kept going and going. He started fiddling around, warping the note into an abundance of psychedelic noise, slowing the note down and speeding it back up again. The rest of the guys walked onto the stage as Seb continued to twist and turn controls. They picked up their instruments as Jake Ward introduced the band and thanked the crowd. Seb stepped away from the synth, picked up the bass and the set came into full swing.
The guys opened with Illusions, a song they decided to keep from the new EP. Filled with angst and pure grit, it was definitely the right way to open the set. James Whitehurst keeps a steady beat in the verses before thrashing away at his drums, syncopating with Seb’s bass line, while Jake Ward and Jake Ferchal keep a heavy riff going, jumping around the stage.
After tuning up, the boys jumped into a new track from the EP, which was released on the night, entitled Tropic. This track definitely fits in to any summer playlist, making you want to get away to the nearest beach and sip on a nice cold beverage. Jake Ward’s smooth vocals really fit the tone of this track, alongside Seb’s bouncing bass and Jake Ferchal’s clean crisp guitar with James’ Caribbean sounding drum pattern.
The next track on the set list was Transparency, a track from the bands first EP, The Shore. This song has been a crowd pleaser at every gig that Arcadia has played, and this was evident from the mosh pit that carried on throughout the entirety of the song. Seb Clarke tells me, “It’s weird to see how far Arcadia have gone as a band in such short time. I remember going to watch their first gig at the Mill and nabbing a set list, Transparency was called ‘They Aren’t Stilettos (new heavier one)’ and now only 8 or 9 months later, I’m on stage with them and people are screaming the lyrics at us”.
The next track to come from the boys was the title track of the first EP, The Shore, another bubbly summer track for your playlists. Seb chose a different sound that I hadn’t heard for the synth on this track, a piano and a choir. He plays the synth and the bass simultaneously with ease, and makes it seem effortless. The track wouldn’t be complete without the silky smooth riff from Jake Ferchal and James’ up-tempo beat, and of course the opening riff from Jake Ward. Jake and Seb performed what was almost a duo during the bridge, taking turns to go for the higher octave while the other sings the lower. Their voices strangely go together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Next up was a cover from the boys, and they knew they had to really push the boat out. “I think most people would be expecting Jaws, Catfish or The Wytches, so we knew we had to surprise people” says Jake Ferchal, the band’s lead guitarist. And they did just that. After some slight technical difficulties, Ferchal strummed on of the most recognisable chords on the indie scene, the opening chord of 1998 (Delicious) by Peace. Seb plucked away at the familiar bass line, as the crowd chanted along to it. Another strum from Jake Ferchal and in came the vocals from Jake Ward, soothing yet almost eerie, it was truly amazing to watch. The boys broke into the infamous build up as Seb egged on the crowd to clap to the beat. Ferchal hammered away at the notes as the build up became more and more intense, and finally, the drop. The crowd throw themselves around in a pit as the boys throw themselves around the stage. The verse comes in, before the delicious vocals from Ward, and then the second build up and the dry snare hit from James Whitehurst’s sample pad set things off. It went mental from there, as the boys thrashed around the stage and the crowd went crazy. The boys didn’t just cover this song - they owned it.
Next up from the guys was another track from their new EP, Cabin. Opening with a bass line soaked in chorus, and the meaty kick drum from James Whitehurst, with the hot licks and trills coming from Jake Ferchal. Jake Ward’s vocals were very true and honest in this track and he sung each word with a passion I’ve never seen from him. I’ve seen the guys play this track and practice it many a time, and it gets better every time I hear it. Ferchal throws himself around the stage during the chorus, dashing around the stage, almost like he’s fighting with his guitar.
Old but gold is the phrase, and the boys took note of this in capital letters. Realisation is probably the most popular track from their first EP, so they knew they had to keep this one for the set list. Another track I have heard many a time, this was different, this was passionate. Each member of the band know what this song is about and knows it’s meaning. It’s about thinking that everything is going absolutely grand, and then having that explode right in front of you. The boys took heed of this and played each note showing nothing but passion and love. It was another that the crowd danced to and sung along to, and the boys know the crowd enjoy it.
The penultimate track of the set was Waste. This track is different from anything you would expect from the boys. Opening with another intricate bass riff that sound almost funk but becomes something completely opposite in the chorus. Along side the bass is the heavily reverberated chord strums from Jake Ferchal, and the kick, snare and hi-hat shuffle from James. Jake Ward tells me “It’s about people becoming addicted to drugs after saying they would never do them.” I think the lyrics portray that very clearly ‘dig your own grave with the hand that feeds’ and ‘waste away’. Ward’s vocals in this track are second to none, pure angst and rebellion. The vocals in the verse do not give away the vocals for the chorus in anyway at all; they practically juxtapose them. The shouted chorus show Ward’s true capabilities as a singer. Then comes the bridge, and meaty drum solo from James. Thrashing around the kit in a way I’ve never seen from any 17-year-old lad on the indie scene, it gives James a chance to show just what he can do on the drums.
And then came the last song, the final track, a last chance for Arcadia to give it everything that night; and they did just that. It of course had to be 95’, the last track from their new EP. A finisher to end all finishes since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin took out the entire McMahon family. The track came in with the ride cymbal from James that gradually increased in volume, then the first note hits and the song is set in motion. The two riffs from Jake Ferchal and Jake Ward gel together throughout the track, with the bass driving it through to the build up. Then it come’s, the build up, prolonging the drop. James snare roll sets the crowd ready to go nuts, and with one hit of the open hi-hat, it hits. The guys lunge around the stage almost hitting each other with their instruments, with James going mental on the drums at the back. The build up breaks into the verse with Ward giving it everything, “Rise above the canopy of your mind”, he sings, as the crowd jump around to the beat. The lads reach the end of the verse and begin to build up for the chorus. Jake practically screams the word ‘elevate’ and sustains it for the longest time I’ve ever seen from him. Ferchal continues to fight with his guitar as James thrashes his crash cymbal. It then comes to the slow breakdown part, with a trap styled beat with yet another intricate and thought about bass riff, before entering another verse. The guys start to build up before the last chorus, keeping the crowd anticipated, and again it drops. Jake again screams ‘elevate’ and hops around the stage aggressively after, going mental on his guitar before removing it. At first I thought he was going to smash it up and then he placed it on the floor and dived into crowd. It was the last thing I was expecting, but the crowd seemed to love it, holding him up for quite a while before putting down as he points towards the stage. Ward climbs back onto the stage and picks his guitar back up, continuing to hammer away at the strings. Another trap breakdown and I see Seb mouth to the rest of the band ‘one more’, and one more was what the crowd got. They built up again, and dropped it like it was hot. Seb switched back to the synth sound from the start of the set and began warping that same note. The guys finished and walked off the stage to the sound of feedback from the amps, constant noise from the synth and a massive cheer from the crowd.
This will definitely have been a night that Arcadia will keep with them. It meant a lot to them to headline the Sugarmill, but they didn’t play, they performed. If you missed this EP launch headline, don’t fear you will be able to get the EP on iTunes, Spotify and other music platforms soon. The EP is available to purchase on CD for £3. Bargain? I think so.