This Feeling club nights have become a thing of urban legend in music circles, the night that all bands want to get on as a stepping stone to bigger things. To see in 2017, they've set up Big In nights to showcase new talent that they believe will make an impact this year and we caught up with six of the eight bands on the Manchester bill on Saturday night at the Night And Day.
Leeds' The Strawberries open up proceedings and set the bar high. Their songs are built around driving rhythms that feel instantly familiar, steeped in classic songwriting tradition, but given their own twist to create their own sound. Mid-set they play a song called She Rhymes To Get Away that particularly sticks in the mind, an earworm that you find yourself singing along to before the second chorus kicks in and involuntarily tapping your feet along. They've got an infectious energy to them that's hard to resist, and in front man Sam a natural band leader, and it's why there's no surprise that they're currently being hotly tipped around Leeds. With songs like Whiplash and their set-closing early single Laburnum House they're certainly a band to keep a keen eye on.
Next up are Walsall's The Assist and the four-piece make an immediate first impression. Big, confident songs of the street in the vein of some of The Twang's best work, they mix guitars with dance rhythms that underpin songs like recent single Tell Her How You Feel whilst Mikey delivers a half-spoken half-sung vocal that betrays a sensitivity in parts of the lyrics, as well as in their slow song Freedom later on, that belies their look. New song Wonderful has a magnificently widescreen yet simple chorus that comes out of nowhere and feels like it belongs in venues many times the size of this. Musically they never stand still either, jumping from one style to another, stopping dead and then veering off in a completely different direction as they do on Time mid-set. We're impressed.
Third on the bill is Bolton's Jordan Allen ahead of his forthcoming dates with The Sherlocks. On the basis of tonight's set we fully expect him to blow them off the stage. After a few years of hard work, it feels like everything is falling into place now - his band mates Danny, Kieran and Nathan are the perfect foil for his direct observations of people and situations around him. Older songs like Remembered and Set In Stone feel like completely different animals from those that marked his nascent talent out locally whilst the new material such as recent single Dancing In The Dark and the forthcoming EP track A Hundred And Ten Ways To Make Things Better show how his songwriting has developed. They debut a new song Out Of My Mind which is possibly his best yet and one that you can almost hear thousands of people singing along to already which will be the inevitable conclusion to 2017 for Jordan.
April certainly don't lack in confidence, exclaiming "come on Manchester, make some fucking noise" as they step on stage. Opening track What Is It Worth shows that it's justified, they're a band that trade in huge swaggering anthems with an attitude, wholly in line with the This Feeling ethos, that screams that they want to be the biggest band in the world. Recent single Open Mind starts with shimmering electronic effects fused to the rampaging guitars and that approach works equally well on Over And Over and the ecstatic Celestial Dream. They finish with their next single Time, a song that's sure to catapult them to a wider audience along with their upcoming dates with Cabbage and deservedly so.
Next up are Dantevilles, a band that have been on our radar for months and who featured in our own tips for 2017. Newly signed they've progressed in that short space of time into a seriously accomplished live band and they reveal some of the fruits of their recent writing sessions as well as delighting the partisan local crowd with favourites such as Perfect Place and It Might Be Tomorrow. As ever, Jamie and Connor's vocals form the distinctive centrepiece of their appeal, working in harmony in parts and in contrast in others, but always in time with the fluid grooves of the music they're creating that set the crowd dancing. With their new song Graffiti already sounding like a surefire single and with reactions like the one they get from the packed in Night And Day crowd, 2017 is already shaping up to be something special for them.
Brighton five-piece White Room are the last of the bands we see in full and they create a shimmering psychedelic whirlpool of sound that builds slowly and wraps itself around the room. It's ambitious in its scale, assisted by the confident expressive vocals and stage presence of front man Jake (resplendent in a bootleg Inspiral Carpets shirt) and lifted by bassist Josie's backing vocals. The exuberant uplifting Think Too Much and Stole The I.V, their two singles from last year, are impressive markers and they debut a couple of new songs, either of which could be a ready made follow up.
The Assist are on Facebook and Twitter.
Jordan Allen's official website can be found here and he is on Facebook and Twitter.
April are on Facebook and Twitter.
Dantevilles are on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.
White Room are on Facebook and Twitter.