Writer Ray Vincent-Mills / Photographer Joe Marchant
It’s Friday night, which is uncharacteristic for a Kaleidoscope, and The Night Owl oozes with creativity from every crevice. Kaleidoscope, a music night incorporated with an arts fair, are celebrating their 5th birthday (for the second time this month) and I make my way upstairs to peruse – finding inspiration amidst craft stalls and low sagging sofas, littered with creatives and consumers alike. It feels like afters, pres, or something just in-between.
The art ranges from a colourful crochet stand, to nineties influenced tattoo flash prints, to a fun striking jewellery stand. I spot a poster which reads ‘Birmingham 2022: Sharon the dog is shitting on the carpet again. Commonwealth Games’ with a picture of Ozzy Osbourne, arms up, eyes wide. The mood is immediately set.
Guitar licks, a wide vocal range, and the rhythm of the drums pull me in from the smoking area… the Ghoules are on stage. They’re one for the headbangers and defenders of rock ‘n’ roll; the gritty and intense vocal delivery does not distract from the beauty and glamour that lies under the surface of their music.
The lead vocalist stares out into the crowd after exclaiming: “We’re gonna fuck off now Brmingham, thank you very much,” and strolls through the crowd to the bar most probably.
His stark unapologetic demeanour compliments the music and emphasises the humility sensed within the group. The band, a culmination of good hair and bold patterns, fills the room with sounds that linger in the corners long after they leave.
The next band Sancho Panza combines indie grooves with mischievous hints of lo-fi and dreampop. My bud taps me on the shoulder grinning, “look at the front.” Two people are dancing enthusiastically, spinning around each other hand-in-hand, as the lead singer smiles fondly.
The 90’s nostalgia that is weaved into their music, paired with the woozy psychedelic visuals behind them, harnesses a nostalgic feel good environment which encourages hip sways and toe taps.
The last act and headliner Fitzroy Holt takes the stage, confident with his band: “Can I get the lights down so I can see all my mates,” he says with a smile.
Fitzroy talks about how the band only formed last summer, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. Their sound is developed, well rounded, and undeniably optimistic, with lyrics that sometimes contrast demonstrating variety and versatility. Their chemistry is strong, as the musicians banter with each other between songs. The keys player and guitarist nuzzle heads as the room comes to life.
Their sound is also soulful and funky, and Fitzroy pays close attention to the crowd. After announcing they’re gonna take things a bit slower, he asks: “Do you want us to go higher or lower?” With enthusiastic shouts of “HIGHER” the band oblige as the room responds.
Fitzroy Holt’s playful take on neo-funk-soul is not only embraced by the crowd but demanded as someone behind me shouts: “Get silly with it!”
An instruction for the band and crowd alike, as bodies swirl around each other like the visuals behind them. With the song ‘Foolish Man’, Fitzroy references himself: “Tell me, why, why do I have work tomorrow?”
Rookie mistake, “Pull a sickie!” someone behind me shouts. If that isn’t a testament to a strong performance I’m not sure what is. Strangers, friends, and lovers get lost in the beat prompting shouts of encore and one more song.
The different genres explored by all the bands at Kaleidoscope tonight pulled in a good crowd of people that mingled and clinked beer bottles long after the music stopped. A sure sign of a successful gig.
Kaleidoscope’s 5th Birthday @ The Night Owl 10.02.23 – Joe Marchant
For more from The Ghoules go to: www.theghoules.bandcamp.com
For more from Sancho Panza got to: www.linktr.ee/SanchoPanzaBand
For more from Fitzroy Holt go to: www.open.spotify.com/artist
For more from The Night Owl go to: www.birmingham.thenightowl.club