Writer Megan Treacy / Photographer Ewan Williamson
The Sunflower stage is reawakened on day two of The Future Sound Project Takeover by Midlands band A Week Full Of Mondays, who are greeted by a brimming room despite the early set time. The four-piece, who emerged mid last year, play several clean-sounding original tunes such as ‘Streetlights’, which features a deep bass-led rhythm, and lyrics of walking along streets reminiscing on places past frequented with a lover.
Similarly named ‘Night Light’ closes the set with a lengthy but impressive guitar solo from guitarist Jay Emery, who will be spotted back on stage again in the hours to come.
The Skeme are up next, another Midlands rock band with a recent EP release, Premonitions of Yesterday, the title track of which is performed this evening, a melody played high up the fretboard washing over a still full crowd.
‘Secret Hideout’, a separate single, features fuzzier strumming, which is scaled back in the pre-chorus to make space for a catchy, oscillating riff, before resuming with lively volume.
We are soon met by Wolverhampton band SUMWoTGRRRL. If their name didn’t betray their punk influences, they would have been revealed through their appearance, the standout feature of which is a black denim sleeveless jackets worn by the lead guitarists, decorated with Black Flag patches and a DIY’d self-deprecating message: “SUMWoTGRRRL suck”.
They don’t suck, in fact they succeed in bringing a riotous energy to the stage, having mastered the skill of full-body rocking without detriment to their playing.
One of their original songs is prefixed only by the promise that it will take us “on a journey” — the journey being a macabre narrative involving coming back from the dead as a “zombie guy”, a story enhanced dramatically by the wide-eyed expressions of lead vocalist Alex.
Next performer Anita Quinn brings a refreshing departure from the rock-heavy lineup. A Birmingham-based rapper and songwriting student from Ireland, she is no stranger to the Sunflower basement (and neither to the writings of Birmingham Review).
Her charismatic stage presence deftly balances honest displays of emotion with cheeky quips, jumping from sharing that she “wasn’t in love this Valentine’s Day” to advertising that “for any fine girls I’m whatever age you want me to be”.
The original songs she performs are autobiographical and candid in nature; ‘Take A Step Back’ is a response to the feeling of “doing too much” when first moving to Birmingham, while ‘We Lie To Ourselves’ navigates the feeling of liking someone but being unsure of loving them.
The heartfelt lyrics are complemented well by the emotive tone of Quinn’s voice as well as the angelic vocals of R&B artist Havannah, who joins her onstage.
Writing tracks about “pretty girls and minor inconveniences”, for any interested readers a trip to Quinn’s next gig could result in a song made about you.
The heaviness returns with the arrival of Broken Drumstick, a punky five-piece band who draw attention before the performance with their elaborate eye makeup — black butterfly-like wings extending to their temples. Their set begins with a few covers, including an unexpected, angsty interpretation of ‘I Kissed a Girl’ with growled vocals.
At various points we are treated to moments of choreography, such as each band member waving a drumstick in the air in allusion to their name, or all beginning seated for the start of Paramore’s ‘All I Wanted’ before jumping up for the chorus.
Where their original music is played (a song called ‘Insomniac)’ it is with snarled lyrics and scratchy guitars reminiscent of Nirvana-style grunge.
It is now time for the return of guitarist Jay Emery to the stage, but the main star of the set is Birmingham-born singer LORENKA whose pink hair is gleaming under the lights.
Through a mix of covers and original songs, LORENKA gifts us a setlist of amazing vocals, hitting notes flawlessly and with well-sustained power. A highlight of the set is the original track ‘All I Need’. The song begins gently with plucked strings and hi-hats before building louder to the chorus, which sees LORENKA display her vocal run abilities as she belts the lines “all I need is somebody to help me through the night”.
More West Midlands representation follows with HAZE. Their rock band status doesn’t need to be announced verbally because their attire does it for them: sunglasses, a Cossack hat, and flowing shirts with buttons half open — they look cool.
Their set feels unusually like a microcosm of the stereotypes of a classic rock show — a number of pretty girls have appeared to dance excitedly at the front of the stage and the band play with an aura of seemingly carefree ease.
The music they play is in fact a mixture of genres and expressive guitar licks, wide-ranging vocals incite probably the most movement the space has seen throughout the day, although the band still call for more.
Finally, Social Format enters to close off the Takeover Weekend, and it’s another appearance from Emery on guitar (busy man). Reappearing also is guitarist Joe Calverley and drummer Matt Hall who both played for LORENKA, impressively maintaining their energy to give a vigorous final set.
Not the first BIMM student to approach the stage tonight (Anita Quinn and LORENKA are among others), Social Format are a Midlands-based alt-rock band fronted by Honor Douglas, who tonight delivers a series of uniquely warm and deep vocals with moments of well-controlled intensity.
With several original songs under their belt, Social Format play some older – such as steady and soulful ‘Symphony’ – as well as some new, such as one song written “72 hours ago” which is yet to receive a title.
As The Future Sound Takeover concludes, it is likely that many will return to The Sunflower stage soon, but for now BIMM students need a rest.
The Future Sound Project @ The Sunflower Lounge – Day One 18.02.23 / Ewan Williamson
For more from A Week Full Of Mondays go to: www.instagram.com/aweekfullofmondays
For more from The Skeme go to: https://open.spotify.com/artist
For more from SUMWoTGRRRL go to: www.instagram.com/sum.wot.grl
For more from Anita Quinn go to: www.instagram.com/imanitaquinn
For more from Havannah go to: www.instagram.com/hhhhavannah
For more from Broken Drumstick go to: www.instagram.com/broken_drumstick_
For more from LORENKA go to: https://lorenkamusic.carrd.co
For more from HAZE go to: www.instagram.com/hazebandshrewsbury
For more from Social Format go to: www.open.spotify.com/artist
For more from The Future Sound Project go to: www.thefuturesoundproject.com
For more from The Sunflower Lounge go to: www.thesunflowerlounge.com