Neon Sarcastic at The Shed

Neon Sarcastic at The Shed

Friday 8th August 2014

Neon Sarcastic at The Shed

Driven Skies, 8 Miles High, The Inside Is Live, Neon Sarcastic.

One of those nights when all the bands are good and you would hate to have missed it.

Even so, I missed the first band, by arriving late. Driven Skies. They are a pop/rock band from Telford. They say, on their Facebook page, ‘Within months of the band forming, they have already claimed the title of ‘Tamworth’s Best Band’ following 2013’s Battle of the Bands contest, and have performed on the main stage of Tamworth Rock Festival – supporting the likes of Wolfsbane. An eclectic fusion of Pop, Rock and Indie ensures that Driven Skies aren’t your average live band.’ You can find them on YouTube, Twitter and Soundcloud.

Always check when the gig starts (if you can.)

The Hours is a five-piece band from Norwich. With their active stage presence, they started their set with a song that plenty of punch right from the start. Lead singer Elle Robertson lead their set of powerful pop/rock songs. On stage they lived the music, bringing their music life with stage craft that had plenty of energy and attack, the guitarists dancing as they played and getting the crowd to clap along with their infectious beats. Joyously bouncy songs with good vocals and engaging choruses, it was a set that drew enthusiastic applause from the audience. The bands first song was releases 12 months ago and has been played on Kerrang. This Norwich band is a must for fans of pop/rock. The band played at The Shed before on 29th May 2013.

Eight Miles High at The Shed
Eight Miles High at The Shed

8 Miles High is a band we have seen many times before. A Leicester band that is riding high, they have recently release an EP Heartbroken Diary – well worth checking out, it has some cracking songs. Their star-quality lead vocalist Oliver Kidd-Martin sings with passion and commitment. Since 8 Miles High burst on to the scene, they have been in the vanguard of popular young bands. Their strongly infectious songs and memorable melodies make them stand out. They have learnt how to climb the ladder of success and tonight they brought in a large crowd of their fans to support them. Their new song started with a slow, moody intro. Sung with plenty of feeling by Oliver, was a likeable ballad, full of resonance, that built up into intense climax that was backed by pounding beats and strident guitar lines. Impressive. In a tribute to Beneath The Lights, they played one of their songs. 8 Miles High’s set included their own songs, as they have no need to play covers any more. They have more than enough of their own songs to fill a half hour set. Their songs have edge and attack powered by fizzing riffs and a relentless movement that made them taught and exhilarating.

The band’s EP Heartbroken Diary is available on Soundcloud

8 Miles High is performing at Leicester Oxjam Festival on 4th October in the Soundhouse.

The Inside Is Live is a five-piece band from Nottingham brought their own stage lighting – which made quite a difference. With their lead singer Michael Denby, they gave plenty of stage action to accompany their punchy tunes. Lots of energy and sparkle, they pumped out the passion with their jumping beats and crashing drum parts. They worked hard to invigorate the crowd, who remained, sadly, rather static. Their songs had metal-like edges, high-octane propelled music that poured fireworks from the stage. I heard reflections of nu-metal, ala early Linkin Park, pleasing strongly melodic sounds laced with delicious guitar work fired up with the compelling rhythms of pop/rock (they say they play ‘alternative rock’.) I liked it a lot.

John Willson of Neon Sarcastic
John Willson of Neon Sarcastic

Neon Sarcastic is one of Leicester’s outstanding bands and has been since they launched in 2007. Here’s what was said about them in 2009 when they played at the Charlotte:

In a complete change of style, Neon Sarcastic took to the stage to present their familiar multi-coloured pop rock show. The “1, 2, 3, 4 go” band evoked a little bit of dancing from the throng at the front, though I suspect many were still weighed down by too much Christmas pudding. Blond bombshell front man John (Willson) energetically strived to work the crowd into a frenzy though many still had not recovered from their new years eve revelries. Even so, the band enjoyed themselves on stage, with some pogo-ing up and down as they delivered their Santa’s sack of glow-stick songs. I’ve seen them in action at other venues and its all worked feverishly well, earning them a justified reputation as being one of the best party bands in town. On a miserably frosty January 2nd, however, it was rather like a Christmas Tree without the lights switched on.

In February, we saw them in Birmingham and wrote

The “happiest band in Leicester”, Neon Sarcastic were the first band of the night to take to the stage at Birmingham’s Flapper venue. They wasted no time in warming up the crowd as they launched into their pop-punk songs, starting with “Geekage”. Lead vocalist John looked every inch the pop star, and the lads gave him a strong and vibrant backing as they stormed through their set. Ending up with their characteristic song “Cheer up emo”, they soon had the crowd bopping around. Our two local bands were easily the best bands of the night. (They were on the line-up with Ictus). NS went through to the next round of Surface Unsigned and they picked up the industry vote.

In October 2009, we said of them:

They always put on an enjoyable show and present their music with passion and commitment. The music of Neon reflects the idiom of Blink 182 and Sum 42, updated punk pop, re-engineered for the dance floor and strong on character and image, a band always worth seeing and never short on sparkle.

(Extracts from Arts in Leicester’s forthcoming book on the history of Leicester music.)

Neon Sarcastic’s music had always moved on and changed over time. Now rockier, heavier and a good deal more driven than it was in their early pop/rock days, their songs are edgier but behind the fire and energy you can still hear those distinctive NS riffs. At time can explode into a fireball of almost post-hardcore incandescence. They can be angry at time in their music, which is pretty incredible, given where they started all those years ago. It is the mark of a great band that they have moved on, let go of the old sounds and invented new ones whilst still having a firm grip on what is quintessentially the hall mark NS sound. A band that can fill a venue with fans, Tonight their new drummer was Chris Swirls, a musician with more experience than most and someone who had stood out over a long time as being one of the best drummers in Leicester.

Neon Sarcastic has made some of the best, most memorable songs of Leicester bands over the years. When you are in front of a band of this calibre, not its only about what you hear but also about what you see. They have stage presence like few others. They bring the whole package together, so well. Playing on a line-up that brought us some pretty good acts, they were able to headline tonight’s show with a top-class performance. Following NS over the years has been a rewarding experience and tonight you could see the flowering of this band’s talent as musicians. A career that has last since 2007 and given Leicester something supremely enjoyable throughout all that time.

It was a good night at The Shed – all the bands were good, the house was full and there was a buzzing atmosphere. There is life in the old venue yet!

Check out all the bands:

Driven Skies, 8 Hiles High, The Inside Is Live ,  Neon Sarcastic.

See also:

Our feature article on Neon Sarcastic

Our list of all featured bands

About The Editor 535 Articles
The Editor of Music in Leicester magazine is Kevin Gaughan assisted by Trevor Locke