The night was on. Crammed to the hilt, Nambucca in Camden was buzzing as we found ourselves a part of this massive reunion of indie writers, photographers, bloggers, promoters and musicians –where a distinct lack of competition and a huge feeling of camaraderie reigned. The only one missing was the ring master himself, Mikey Jonns, but while his absence was felt, the night roared on without a hitch. Lucie Barat summed it up perfectly: ‘This Feeling, in all honesty, is a big family and a buzzing scene. The audience, organisers and band are like one big happy gang here to right the wrongs of the music industry!’
Nambucca is a fab venue and the bar staff kept drinks flowing all night. The sold-out gig spilled out on to the pavement in front when folks needed a little air after being squeezed into every corner of the venue. As the first performers came the stage, the crowds surged forward toward the stage and the night was born.
Lucie Barat opened the night with her multi-talented band. ‘The boys were awesome and I just kinda zone whenever I play,’ Lucie told me afterwards. ‘The songs all matter to me so I try and give them each my all! Now, Be Adored, the last song, is always good live tune – easy to bounce to!’
Her poetry came at you quickfire, an explosion of vibrant and innovative spoken word, music and visual art as though dipped in a Jean-Luc Godard film. Lucie Barat gave us French New Wave of the 1960s updated and twisted accordingly.
Lucie found it difficult to pick a favourite band that evening. ‘Himalayas are ready to pop. They’re such a good live act. Sheafs too and all the acts, I love that there’s something for everyone on the bill and every band is shit hot!’
Then, Calva Louise came at us with their punk rock power pop as Jess, Alizon and Ben stormed the stage. They shouted, screamed and sang these opposing styles giving such an original rawness. Their infectious melodies within pop-punk fusion had the crowd bouncing. ‘I Can Do Well’ had us all singing along and their ballsy energy was lively and potent.
Jess had a great night. ‘It was great – loved all the bands! We were alright I guess,’ she added shyly. Calva Louise are on the brink of great things and they are so deserving of all their success as they are a really humble, though super talented band. When asked which track they were happiest with: ‘I think ‘Cruel Girl’ for us.’
And who were their favourite band of the night? Avalanche Party! Great atmosphere and energy, love the tunes as well – they were excellent. We really loved The Surrenders too!’
The band that followed were the mighty Himalayas. This band are so talented from the vocals to guitars, from the bass to the drums. Everything was in synch. But just watching their interaction with their audience is all you need to see. They are loved. Everyone sang along to every chorus and the catchy riffs of every song stayed with you even late in to the evening. I caught up with Joe and Mike after their set. ‘Some of our best gigs last year started with This Feeling so it was only right to kick off 2018 with them. Such a class atmosphere and such class people.’ Louis added, ‘We probably rate our performance a solid 9.9 out of 10.’ Thank God I’m Not You went down a storm with its Hendrix heavy beginning and the audience joined in with ‘OO-oo! Thank God I’m Not You’ at every given opportunity. They were in agreement. ‘Thank God naturally was the best received song by the audience. It was nice to see our newer yet-to-be-released songs having a good reception too. Definitely our best gig of the year so far!’ Louis added with a wink. So who stood out for them? ‘Has to be The Surrenders. The man can sing! Hey Charlie follow close behind – so much noise for a three-piece. All the bands were class that night. This Feeling never put on a poor act.’
The Surrenders were up next and their psychedelic bluesy soul blew the crowd away. They have an electrifying presence that can only be described as hypnotic.
Richard Jones, lead guitarist said, ‘After having a few weeks off from gigging over Christmas we had a lot of energy to let loose. That was equally met by the audience and ricocheted around the room.’ My fave track was ‘No Paper’ and the boys agreed. ‘It seemed to go off. Simple and primitive was the formula that proved effective that night and ‘No Paper’ is the epitome of exactly that.’ So who were memorable for them on Saturday? ‘Stand out for us were Sheafs, they’ve got the tunes and the best beard in the business,’ Richard smiled.
Hey Charlie blew us all away with faultless harmonies over punchy indie rock. This powerhouse, made up of Sophie, Lauren and Lizz, blew us away with their whole demeanour and attitude. Absolute perfection. Their sound blended grunge guitar riffs, pop melodies and driving rock drum grooves with those soul-shattering harmonies. Catching up with them later, they were buzzing. ‘We loved it! Such a fun gig to kick off 2018. There’s a great atmosphere and crowd and plenty of Red Stripe which is always a winner haha!’
Their set was a mix of favourites and new material: ‘We played a new tune tonight which got a great reaction from the crowd. Our final song ‘Cheer Up Princess’ always gets people dancing!’ Absolutely one of my favourites which got everyone cheering particularly the lines:
‘Cheer up princess you are such a pretty mess
Cheer up princess you are just so pretty pretty.’
– a hot topic as the song is about women being objectified and echoes the current issues surrounding equality and exploitation at the moment. When asked if any bands stood out for them, they said, ‘This was our first time seeing Calva Louise and Himalayas. They were great!’
Avalanche Party were a band many were buzzing about and as we all pressed ourselves closer to the stage, Joe rocked, crowd surfing and sang on bended knee while we all worshipped at the This Feeling altar! ‘Let’s Get Together’ got everyone bouncing as did ‘’I’m So Wet’ with its trademark thudding bass and whining melody on guitar. Joe has such a strong growling vocal and leads the band through the heavy rocking tracks. He has a real Jim Morrison-ness about him at times. I could have listened to them all night.
When asked what they thought of the night as a whole, the band told us, ‘It was a right nice peach. A ripper. A stormer. Dead good. Really cool vibe from start to finish. It was class seeing the place so packed with folks supporting the up and comers. Meaty line up. Thoroughly enjoyed playing and chuffed to have been a part of it. Total buzz.’ When I asked the boys how they felt their set had gone, they told me: ‘It was a total abomination out of ten.’ Joe added, ‘I remember hearing Solid Gold being chanted back to us so let’s plumb for that as top track tonight.’
The boys struggled to choose their fave band of the night. ‘Hard to say. Was nice meeting Himalayas and we’ve done a few festivals with Sheafs. They always get the people going. Calva Louise did a good ‘un. They’re supporting our pals Spring King on tour soon so if you’re attending them gigs, pop in early for Calva Louise.’
Sheafs did not fail to impress with their raucous political punk indie rock. Particularly memorable was a moment during This is Not a Protest which saw stalwart photographer Alan Wells and the lead singer singing and surfing from the audience’s shoulders.
Their set and showmanship are why Sheafs are ready to break and while we love the fact they’ve been our worst kept secret we have to be happy when the rest of the world discovers them.
We caught up with them later to hear their thoughts. ‘We thought the event was well rounded with a solid line up of bands. Top night,’ Chris told us. Of their performance they were their usual modest selves: ‘We thought we went down quite well. All of us were buzzing when we came off stage.’ Their performance, just to clarify, was epic. The crowd went wild for each and every song, a mass of bouncing bodies constantly shouting and singing the lyrics. I asked them which was their favourite song of the set. Lawrence told me,’ ‘The track for us would probably be the debut of the song, ‘Animal’. It’s the first time we played it live and was written only a couple of weeks ago.’ I asked Chris who their band of the night was. ‘For us; Avalanche Party. We’ve had our eye on them for a while and they smashed it. Top lads as well.’
Anteros came next. Her vocals were raw while tuneful, her lyrics poignant and resonating with the crowd while sung over a day dreamy melody.
This band have a real likeability factor. Anteros is an eclectic mix of underground ‘70s clubgoer and ‘80s high street teen. Highlights for me were ‘Breakfast’ which I found catchy yet compellingly dark and ‘Love’ which gave us an iconic sound with beats to dance to.
Judas were our final band of the evening: an exceptionally talented bunch offering anthemic songs, timeless melodies and sweeping stadium-worthy sounds.
‘This Feeling’s first night of the year was off the charts. It was absolutely rammed and we couldn’t have asked for a better reception.’ Sam confided. While mesmerising to watch, the tune that I was looking forward to most and was far from disappointed to hear live, was Ceasefire. Judas were struck by the audience’s response to this song too. ‘Ceasefire went down a storm, it’s our latest release and it’s so great to see everyone was into it.’ Their band of the night was Himalayas. ‘We were amazed by them. They just seem to get better every time we see them. Riffs that go on for days!’ Sam laughed.
Speaking to Connor Brooks, lead singer, and Richard Jones, from The Surrenders later as we queued later for well-deserved late night pizza, we reflected on why the night was such an important one. ‘There was an atmosphere of pure celebration on This Feeling’s opening night. Not sure if it was a result of the bands or the prospect of what the rest of the year might offer. Whatever it was, it was a fat middle finger to those who doubt this music.’
This Saturday night will always be a special gig for those who were lucky enough to get tickets. It was the new year event to be at and the gig where the best new bands of the moment all shared the same bill in a bid to kick off 2018 in style. How Mikey Jonns pulled it off is sure to go down in music folklore and we will remember it in all its intensity.