Emily Jones || January 22nd
The last gig I attended in 2016 was major, to say the very least. On Thursday 29th December, I arrived at The Sugarmill to catch headliners Release play their final show of the year. And what a show it was.
If the crowd outside the venue was anything to go by, it was quite clear that this was going to be a gig to remember. The groups of teenagers and young adults that were huddled together in the winter air seemed to grow by the second. Inside and the story was pretty much the same. The room was electric, buzzing with the anticipation of what was to come. Three support acts, Bonsai, ExitPupils and Dregs, had to take to the stage first, before Release could have their chance in front of their crowd.
Consisting of ex-Arcadia frontman Jacob Ward on lead vocals and guitar, Darcy Reddin on bass and Alex Grant on drums, Dregs were the band given the task of opening the show. Their grungy sound, appearance and style gave them the upper hand, making them interesting and popular. The young crowd certainly seemed to like them, gathering close to the front of the stage in order to truly embrace their sound. Dregs are most definitely a band to keep your eye on in 2017.
Next up were ExitPupils, a rap duo from Werrington, made up of Average Joe and Mumbo Jimbo. They seemed comfortable on stage, despite the lack of participation from the audience and breezed through their set with confidence and swag. ExitPupils are nominated for Best Urban Act and it's easy to see why. Their personalities are woven into their music, as they bounce off each other both lyrically and musically.
The final support of the night were Bonsai. A popular band with a likeable sound, Bonsai's lead singer Chris Hough, at first, seemed subdued. His showman nature was not immediately visible, but as their set progressed, Hough appeared to loosen up and relax into the night. Their music was loud and well-rehearsed, with Hough donning the familiar topless look part way through, as seems compulsory for any live show they play. He's certainly a character, with intriguing, fluid vocals to accompany it. Bonsai were the perfect lead support for the night, with Release's very own Caleb Allport taking Hough's place for their final song.
In the moments leading up to the headliners set, the electricity in the room seemed to grow ever stronger, reaching its peak as soon as the five piece stepped on stage. I've seen Release play shows before, but when they took to the stage on that cold December night, it felt like I was watching them for the very first time. They were exciting, engaging, confident and arrogant, but in a way that made you love them rather than loathe them. I don't think I've ever seen a local band pack out The Sugarmill, in the same way that Release did. That sight alone was enough to make you proud, without even having to hear their music. Standing before his home crowd, that was convulsing in front of him, frontman Allport seemed the most at ease I've ever known him to be. 'C U Next Time' displayed the band's intensity, as well as the control over their audience. "Separate yourselves" yelled Allport, as he parted the crowd with his hands, before bringing everyone back together for the climax of the track. Amongst their set, 'Public Urination', 'Back To The Old Routine' and current single 'The Inevitable' stood out as highlights, as well as brand new as-yet-untitled tracks, that gave the audience a small glimpse of where Release's sound is heading. Looking out across the packed room, bodies squashed against each other, sweat dripping from the brows of every teenager and indeed, every adult too, Allport seemed to take it all in. Filling the stage with their signature super charged nature, Caleb, Jack, Tom, Aaron and Mayson gave it their all. Finishing off the night with another new number, Release ended their 2016 on a dizzying high, whilst the room erupted around them.
Between his erratic on-stage persona and his cool frontman face, Allport is a humble, appreciative and indeed, talented musician. His passion for his band, the music they make and the direction they're heading in is admirable. As a local band, Release are up there with the best of them, riding a wave that makes them unpredictable but extremely exciting. Where will they go next? Who knows, but one thing is for sure. 2017 is going to be one hell of a year.