This Feeling's January set of gigs championing their biggest tips for 2019 hit a hot and sweaty sold-out Night And Day Cafe in Manchester last night with five bands - The Seamonsters, Social Room, King Kartel, Cleargreen and Red Rum Club - from near and far coming together to showcase their talents.
Sheffield's The Seamonsters open up proceedings and there's a healthy crowd in already to witness a band that recently described themselves in an interview with us as "the Indie Spice Girls" doing themselves a disservice in the process. They've been together six years now and the time they've had to discover themselves as a band without the pressure of expectation is clearly showing now. They've got a refreshing approach to songwriting where a song doesn't follow the verse chorus verse chorus break chorus pattern, but is something more fluid, interchanging between styles mid-song and showing their collaborative songwriting style can produce interesting results.
Their three singles to date - the sumptuous but spiked Max And Archie, their latest Blue Movie Baby and their closing track Lost And Found - are present and correct, but it's the likes of Like A Girl with the killer line "you make me sick, you're such a fucking dick" cracking open the sugar coating of Naomi's breathy delivery and the movie soundtrackesque La Mort Est Un Jeu Fou that really capture the audience's attention. They invite a friend from Delaware up on stage to play tambourine for the last song and she looks like another member of their gang. Still developing as a band, but at a rate of knots, anyone dismissing The Seamonsters in 2019 would be playing a risky game.
Social Room are from Sunderland, "north north" as Matty tells us at the start of their set. You could be forgiven for thinking they want to be from Manchester though, such is the belligerent Gallagher swagger of their front man as he encourages us to join in. However, there's far more to Social Room than that would ever suggest. They do have big anthemic songs that would fit that mould but they're delivered with a personality of their own, something that is often missing from bands of this genre.
When Will I Learn hides thoughtful introspection down beneath its brash exterior whilst Bright Star, which concludes their set, is bolder and ambitious, ushered in by drums before the hook line grabs the attentive audience in. One More Round talks of the midweek night out to drown out the dreary reality of the nine to five that's very relatable. When they slow things down they're equally impressive, SR7 is an ode to their home town whilst Let's Talk strips away any bravado and deals in real life feelings. It's an impressive set and they certainly win over a fair few new fans.
King Kartel have the healthiest following of the night and they soon have the whole place eating out of the palms of their hands. Infectiously catchy tunes and in Hugh, a frontman who could charm anyone anywhere and light up the darkest room, it's strange to have them on a bill for new talent when they've been around since 2012, but the response they get tonight suggests there's a groundswell coming behind them that's going to lift them up this year.
Be Mine is taken away from them by the crowd and sung back in scenes you'd expect at a big arena show not middle billing at the Night And Day, the undoubted highlight of the whole night, and a song that is set to catapult them into the spotlight should they choose to release it. Last year's pair of singles Heart Hits The Floor and Brown Sugar are the sound of a band operating at full throttle, cognisant of exactly which levers to pull and heartstrings to tug at to connect with an audience. They're taken aback by the rapturous response they get, but from where we're standing it was every bit deserved and more.
Cleargreen have been making waves for a year or so now. They've clearly missed the memo about how you're supposed to look and behave on stage and are all the better for it. Their tracksuits might make them look out of place where the cool kids hang out, but their message is through their music. Stargazer, Paradise and Burnsey have an urgent energy to them that transmits itself beyond their band of followers that chant their name between each song.
It's that which makes Cleargreen stand out from many of the bands doing the same circuit as them around Manchester at the moment. They insist on doing their thing their way and it's fuelled by the combination of Ali and Liam's vocals and takes off when Josh, in his own understated way, lets loose on the guitar and people stop dancing just to take what he's doing in. Last year's single Gone showed that they have started to be able to capture this energy in the studio. They get so caught up in the intensity of the performance that Ali inadvertently smashes up his guitar at the end of the final song.
Last up are Red Rum Club, the Scousers here fresh on the back of the success of their Top 50 album Matador released a couple of weeks ago and a celebratory launch show back in Liverpool. It's easy to see why they're so hotly tipped, they're tight in their delivery, they have songs that build to climatic choruses, soaked in brass. Frank is a showman, whether it's his slick demeanour or voice that carries the drama and emotion in the songs as they're intended. They have the Night And Day crowd eating out of the palm of their hands by the end at which point they've invited a hoard of people on stage to join them.
The setlist plucks most of the highlights from Matador, starting and concluding with two of the singles Angeline and a triumphant Would You Rather Be Lonely? Songs like Casanova and Honey have an immediacy and a familiarity to them that pulls you in, influences apparent, but with their own personality and stamp of style written all across them. Next single TV Said So has the timeless qualities of much of the rest of the show and looks set to give them even further exposure in the coming months. For tonight they've made a lot of new friends.
The Seamonsters are on Facebook and Twitter. They play Liverpool Jacaranda Phase One (February 3), Birmingham The Victoria (8), Middlesbrough Westgarth Social Club (March 2), Sheffield Crookes Social Club (9), Derby Riverside Live (23) and Blackburn Confessional Festival (September 6).
Social Room are on Facebook and Twitter. They play four dates in February supporting The Spitfires at Sheffield Plug (8), Manchester Gorilla (9), Hull The Welly (15) and York Fibbers (16).
King Kartel's official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
Cleargreen's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter. They play Leeds Lending Room (March 9), Blackburn Electric Church Club (15) and Sheffield Cafe Totem (16).
Red Rum Club's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter. They play Newcastle Head Of Steam (March 7), Glasgow Broadcast (8), Sheffield Record Junkee (9), Cardiff The Moon (14), Bristol Hy-Brasil Music Club (15), Leeds Brudenell Social Club (16), Nottingham Rough Trade (21), Wigan The Grand Vault (22), London Notting Hill Arts Club (23) and Liverpool O2 Academy (September 28).