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.
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.
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?
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.