Flesh, Release, Rinse & Arcadia @ The Sugarmill, Stoke-on-Trent – Jan 27th, 2016
Independent Venue Week is an annual celebration of small, independently-owned music venues across the country who are the unsung heroes of the music industry. This year IVW returned to Stoke’s legendary venue, The Sugarmill. Anyone who knows me personally will be aware that The Sugarmill is pretty much my home. I’ve been going to gigs there since I was fourteen and without it my love of live music would be fairly non-existent. So it is brilliant to see it recognised through the IVW.
So how do you celebrate the success of a top music venue? A gig obviously. And this one was complete with a top line-up of amazing local and national talent. First on stage were Stoke newcomers Arcadia. Four lads with a great alternative-indie sound and style that has potential to expand into something more distinctive and solid as they spend more time on stage. Their experience is limited at the moment but they have some ace gigs lined up that will boost their following. This Saturday (6th February) they are supporting former Catfish and The Bottlemen guitarist, Billy Bibby and The Wry Smiles at The Underground. This is a great opportunity for them and I’m sure there are plenty more on the horizon.
Second up were RINSE, four stupidly-talented lads who have been nominated for ‘Best Band’ at the Staffordshire and Cheshire Music Awards Night. This is probably the millionth time I’ve seen RINSE live and somehow, which I can’t comprehend, they just keep getting better. Listening to them for me is like listening to one of those old classic albums, reliable and rewarding but different every time. Their sound is somewhere in-between psychedelic, trippy rock and catchy, upbeat indie. Their E.P. ‘Lude Jaw’ is a song with the same standards of signed artists, and hence it has been nominated for ‘Best Record’ at the Music Awards as well. They’ve supported Palma Violets, The Ordinary Boys, Jaws and they performed at several festivals over the summer including Blissfields where they bagged themselves Ben Howard as a fan. Attached to their hip are a loyal following whose support for the band is incredible, RINSE’s interaction with them make every gig memorable and this was no exception.
The main-support came from Release, potentially one of the maddest acts I’ve seen on that stage. Release are essentially a British punk band, loud vocals with louder backing but they’ve got a slight twist to them, a violin. And oddly, without the violin, I would have written Release off as another bunch of wannabe anarchists. But something about the mix of piercing and stunning violin and well, you know, crazy punk, worked. Their track ‘Back To The Old Routine’ is probably their most controlled and accessible song, and a great listen. They have incredible charisma and stage presence, which is why the crowd below worshiped them. Shout out to Fat Will and Nicky B (I think!) who hopped on stage and showed us their Bez-like dance moves. But it’s moments like that which make gigs special. Release are a part of the growing revival of punk, championed by the likes of Slaves, and with gigs as energetic and interesting as this, they are definitely ones to watch on the scene.
Then we come to our headliner, the cool kids of Manchester who came with their very own JVC operating cameraman, FLESH. They’re just so Northern Quarter. Dressed in early 90s sweats and with a hint of that Liam Gallagher shineeeee whine in the singer, they’re everything a Mancunian band should be. And their fans dressed for the brief as well, looking like they’d stepped right off the set of This is England ’90. All kappa and fila and bucket hats. They belong to the new wave of grungey, catchy indie, definitely for fans of Peace and the like. ‘NOT GNA’ and ‘VAUXHALL CASANOVA’ are their standouts for me, both repetitive, quick, head-bobbers with slick riffs. They’ve already supported big names like The Enemy and Darlia and have toured across the country last year. Their white socks have already stepped in The Sugarmill, back in July, and since then they’ve had a lot of buzz in Stoke and the hype can only get bigger after this gig.
Author: Leah Hamer