Blackpool’s had a patchy history with independent music. Venues closing and no one coming out to see shows was the norm a few years ago.
And then out of nowhere, some secret resurgence occurred. New places opened their doors, new bands took to their stages and new audiences came out in their droves to see something new. Something exciting.
It’s this renewed passion and musical momentum that must have attracted This Feeling to the seaside town. Along with Metropolis Music, they’ve been bringing Trampolene, Himalayas and Sophie & the Giants to audiences around the country as part of a 13-day tour, with thriving venue Bootleg Social hosting the Blackpool gig off the back of recent appearances from The Wombats and Idles.
With a strong local fanbase, my band Nana White Pepper was asked to open the show, and it was great to get to know the bands personally. Without exception they were excited to be in the town and a riot to have a beer with.
Since I was lucky enough to be both a participant in the show and an observer, I want to run through my favourite ten moments from the show.
The Crowd’s Enthusiasm
From the moment we walked on stage you could tell the audience was excited and that atmosphere lasted from our first note to Trampolene’s last one. You can’t beat a hometown show where people who’ve seen you from the very start are singing your own lyrics back to you and this gig was no exception.
They were bouncing to every song and it just makes getting into it yourself that much easier.
The room moved most to our first single Fly and new number Dark Room, which is due to be released this summer (shameless plug which I’m only slightly apologising for).
We all had an absolute ball for our entire set and hopefully that joy was contagious.
All I know is that I left that stage drenched in sweat which is usually a good sign and that’s before we get onto the rest of the talent.
Sophie & the Giant’s Big Opening
As the first band of the night from out of town, Sophie & the Giant’s job wasn’t an easy one but they made a splash immediately. The opening cacophony of noise was loud, bombastic and arresting making everyone in the room turn around and take note.
As they began playing you could hear the influences of some expected sources for a female-fronted act (Blondie, Florence and the Machine) but the tight, pop rock instrumentals fused with a definite electronica influence also harkened back to bands like Arctic Monkeys or TV on the Radio.
My personal favourite song of Sophie & the Giant’s set was The Light, which is best described with three words: vibes, vibes, vibes.
The jangly guitar mixed with the deep, attention-grabbing bass complimented Sophie’s vocals to create a sound that immediately drew the crowd forward and wouldn’t let go, each band member unconsciously moving in unison as if they were taken by the music.
An early highlight.
Monsters and Bulldogs
The band completed their set with a double whammy of songs that hit every emotional beat. Their latest single Monsters was dark and brooding live and you could feel the audience swaying with the music.
This contrasted with the heightened energy of Bulldogs which built to a crescendo that was the perfect end to their set.
They stormed their way to a manic climax that left everyone standing with me stunned; it took us a moment to realise where we were afterwards.
Sigh on a Hurricane
Himalayas entered the stage with the confidence of a band that had been dominating venues for decades and it’s an outlook that’s well-deserved.
After an aggressive opening number, they quickly moved on to fan-favourite Sigh on a Hurricane, instantly recognisable by its mind-bending guitar lick. Old fans and new listeners alike were into it, the band’s magnetic presence attracting everyone to the front.
Frontman Joe Williams’ intense stare added to the band’s allure and by the time they’d made it to the chorus, the audience was cheerfully singing along with the infectious backing vocals.
Energetic is an understatement.
Good, Old-Fashioned Headbanging
Himalayas carried this energy right the way through their set. When they exploded into their new single If I Tell You, everyone was fully along for the ride.
The heavy main riff was wonderfully dark and aggressive — it’s the kind of thing you hear and wish you’d written yourself. The star of the show, however, was drummer James Goulbourn whose headbanging reverberated throughout the venue.
Probably my favourite song of the entire night.
No Himalayas set would be complete without the presence of Thank God I’m Not You. The track’s been played over five million times on Spotify alone and it’s not hard to see why.
Its repeated chorus hook is impossible not to sing along with, with an ebb and flow between verse and chorus that’s a thrill to listen to.
Their signature track soon morphed into an emotional ballad of an ending. It unified the crowd as they carried Joe on their shoulders while he played the stellar set out with the rest of the band.
A Dynamic Turn from Trampoline
Sometimes it’s easy to see why a band’s name is top of the bill. Trampolene took the crowd on a rollercoaster of a journey, each song rolling into the next but with a definite sense of progress throughout.
Poetry ran from down-tempo mood pieces into abrasive, distorted noise rock and it all worked so well together and kept the audience’s attention for the duration of their 60-minute set.
From the wild highs of It’s Not Rock and Roll to the melodic tones of Imagine Something Yesterday, Trampolene had something for everyone.
Rock & Roll Poetry
Something that has set the band apart from their peers is frontman Jack Jones’ poetic interludes which are satirical and biting in equal measure.
Artwork of Youth, the tale of Jones’ many firsts at school, is both deeply personal and broadly transcendent, while the wit-filled Ketamine sounds like a turbulent love note to a former partner.
But it was Pound Land’s musings on modern life which caught the attention of onlookers as the night drew to a close while the crowd hung onto his every word. A sight to be seen.
Hard Times for Dreamers
Trampolene really are getting better and better. My favourite moment of their set was new single Hard Times for Dreamers.
It’s a more uplifting track than perhaps we’re used to from the band but it doesn’t lose any bite. It’s a chaotic anthem in the style of The Libertines or Baby Strange, with a manic guitar and bass combo, drums that build to an almighty climax and vocals that you simply have to join in with.
“It’s not a revolution, it’s a revelation.” Truer words never spoken.