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.