I don't think it's any secret that I'm a huge fan and supporter of live music. There's a strange sense of camaraderie amongst a group of people in a large venue who all love the music that is played before them, but there's nothing better than going to see bands at your local independent venue, I'm quite lucky that my home in Leicester has The Cookie, Dryden Street Social, The Musician, The Shed and The Firebug all dotted throughout the city, and whilst I'm away at University in Birmingham I have The Sunflower Lounge, The Actress & Bishop. The Flapper. The Hare & Hounds and probably a few more I've never even heard of. It's important to support these venues and get down there to support the up and coming talent that graces their stages nearly every night of the week. With that said, let me give you some pointers to who you absolutely should see live.
I saw October Drift in early 2018 at the Dryden Street Social in Leicester, they were breathtakingly good. Playing all of their top tunes with such energy and aura that it was genuinely hard to take your eyes off the stage. And the gig just got even better when lead vocalist, Kiran Roy, began climbing around the venue whilst singing - which I feel is a talent more vocalists should have.
There's not much more to say about The Blinders than what has already been said, their rise over the past few years has been nothing short of astronomical and if you go and see them live you'll see why in the space of about an hour, as their set carousels around their debut album, Columbia, through songs that just have no right being this good. Coupled with the aesthetic and the attitude of the band you have one of the best bands of this generation, jump on the bandwagon now!
Going to see IDLES is not like any other gig, it's like visiting a religious ceremony and there's just no other way of describing it. The 5 piece post punk band have been non-stop touring and releasing unforgettable music for years now and when you go their gigs and see the crowd hanging on frontman, Joe Talbot's, every word you realise that being an IDLES is being part of something bigger than yourself, it's a magical feeling attending their gigs.
Releasing my album of the year for 2018 probably guarantees you a place on this list anyway, but just in case it was ever in doubt you should probably get yourself a ticket to see this unbeatable 3 piece live. They are just as alluring and fantastic live as they are on record with frontwoman, Soph Nathan's, vocals really leading the charge and it just brings Stranger Today to life all that much more, I can't wait to see them again.
Up and coming Birmingham band, Echo Beach! are a band I've only seen once which is a damn shame because when I caught their set at Oxjam Brum last year it was clear from the very first note that they were destined for something special. Since then they've released their debut single "She" which is just the ultimate toe tapper, the perfect build up to a phenomenal anthem. Catch them live before they make it big so you can brag to your friends about how you saw them in a 50 capacity venue... Definitely not something I'd ever do...
After waiting for what felt like an eternity, Estrons released their debut album last year and it finally gave them a back catalogue to produce a much longer set. And if you think their music is good on tape then wait until you see them live, with the added charisma and intensity of frontwoman, Tali, I guarantee you'll find yourself in a room full of people with emotional connections to the songs being performed on stage as they are so raw and emotional. Truly majestic.
Let's be honest here, Songs of Praise is one of the greatest albums you'll ever hear with huge post-punk tunes to get your teeth into, and seeing them in the flesh only brings them to life with an excessive amount of charisma the band blast through the tunes thanks to the powerful presence of Charlie Steen commanding the crowd to his every whim. It's just as much fun to watch from the sides to also get involved in.
Spilt Milk Society
I feel like I blabber on about Spilly Milk all the time on here, but that's only because of how much I really want them to get to where they deserve to be. Frontman Harry Handford is quite possibly one of the most talented songwriters in the whole industry with songs such as "Backseat" and "Amsterdam" being way too efficiently produced and perfect to be from a band that aren't playing arenas. If Spilt Milk Society are near you on their next tour then you better get your ass down there.
Cabbage are one of my favourite live bands, with 2 albums worth of material to stab at now and a die hard following you can't help but feel they're going to be playing some bigger venues on their next tour. Over the 4 times that I've seen them they've produced some mind blowingly good sets and always switch up the setlist to leave you guessing which is such a welcome thing in live music. And with 2 frontmen aswell you're just getting your moneys worth.
I'm not sure where Otherkin are at the moment, they've been off the grid for a while so hopefully they're working on their second album. These Irish alt-rockers produced a brilliant self-titled debut album and have one of the most energetic, loud and technically perfect live shows I've ever witnessed. With driving guitars and proper sing-along tunes there is just no possible way you couldn't have fun at one of their gigs. When they make their way near your city be sure to drop in to catch their set, you won't regret it.