Words by Molly Forsyth / Pics by Paul Reynolds
There is a particular charm to walking down the beaten stairs of a tucked away bar, having a cross marked on your wrist as you squeeze yourself and your Red Stripe can in amongst the crowd to see who are the bands that are getting people talking.
Tonight, Riscas and some excellently chosen guests are not only getting people talking, but screaming, bouncing from body-to-body like a game of pinball, and generally causing beautiful chaos with their rabble-rousing indie tunes in The Sunflower Lounge.
First up for the baying crowd is The Real Cool, receiving what I perceive to be the coolest reception of the evening (pun unintended); I will put that down to being first on stage. What follows is a set of well-crafted synth pop, complete with lilting melodies over percussion inspired by the tropicana trends of the early eighties.
A lot of modern bands prefer to emulate the minimal, colder sounds of electronica, but while The Real Cool definitely match that aesthetic, their music betrays them, instead embracing joy, fun and a dash of flamboyance, reminiscent of La Roux and Muna. My favourite song of the entire evening happens to be the band’s latest single, ‘Always Her’, a delicate, summer-friendly melody overlaid on crisp, punchy snares and hi-hats. I look forward to seeing more of this trio in the Birmingham scene.
Next up for the now warmed-up crowd are Candid. Hailing from Coventry, Candid carry the confidence of a band who know how to bring thier music to the stage. Ripping through riffs with increasing ferocity, they endeavour to meet the hunger of the crowd, as it becomes rowdier and rowdier. It takes a lot of resistance to not be taken in by their energy.
I only wish that some of the songs didn’t bleed so easily into others. There were times where I wasn’t sure where one song started and another began. Some of the more distinct rhythms get drowned in the guitars, and bringing in a better balance between their instruments (while keeping the same fervour in their performance) would help Candid greatly. ‘Lay Me Down’ is the band’s strongest offering of the night, while new song, the anthemic ‘Breathless’, should see them gain ground with new fans this year.
Before the headliners grace the stage, Spilt Milk Society offer what I believe to be the most attention-grabbing set of the evening. If you listen to Spilt Milk Society’s music regularly and have followed its progression, which has coincided with the development of a strong internet fanbase, you will take joy in hearing how the songwriting has improved. While it is a bittersweet set to witness – with both drummer and bassist departing after tonight’s gig – this is a band on the cusp of achieving sonic greatness.
Comparing earlier successes such as ‘She Tastes Like Summer’ through to most recent track ‘Amsterdam’, you can trace a band that has grown more and more experimental and aware of how to add nuance and intricacies to infectious melodies. Spilt Milk Society have said that there is plenty of “bangers and mash” to come. After tonight, I believe them wholeheartedly.
Finally, we are treated to a barnstorming headline set from Riscas – Kez Handley’s Hey Honey Management has created a monster, if tonight is anything to go by. Riscas deliver a truly frenetic set from start to finish, filling the relatively small quarters of The Sunflower Lounge with electricity – including a brilliant moment where the band’s frontman, George Maycock, escapes into the crowd to whip us further into hysteria.
Riscas have mastered the art of what I refer to as the ‘indie jangle’; the distinct ringing of a fastly-strummed guitar that makes you feel like you in the middle of August, dancing around with a flower crown perched on your head and overpriced Tuborg in hand.
New song ‘Right Kinda Day’ hits a sweet spot of gentle, twee charm with enough power to soar once the chorus hits, while the band’s biggest hit to date, ‘Panic Like Tom’, gets the crowd jumping. If Riscas don’t find themselves on a FIFA or Made In Chelsea soundtrack soon, I will be stunned.
Riscas @ The Sunflower Lounge 19.01.18 / Paul Reynolds – Birmingham Review
Spilt Milk Society – supporting Riscas @ The Sunflower Lounge 19.01.18 / Paul Reynolds – Birmingham Review
Candid – supporting Riscas @ The Sunflower Lounge 19.01.18 / Paul Reynolds – Birmingham Review
For more on Candid, visit www.facebook.com/candidcoventry
The Real Cool – supporting Riscas @ The Sunflower Lounge 19.01.18 / Paul Reynolds – Birmingham Review
For more on The Real Cool, visit www.therealcool.wixsite.com/therealcool
For more from Hey Honey Management, visit www.facebook.com/HeyHoneyUK
For more from Birmingham Promoters, including further event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.birminghampromoters.com