28th July 2014

Neon Sarcastic in show with Hours band

The Shed August 8th 2014
The Shed August 8th 2014

Leicester band Neon Sarcastic are due to play at The Shed on 8th August as part of their tour.

Also in stage with them will be Hours, the pop rocking quintet who head out on tour to help promote their new single ‘Crossfire‘, which is released on the 4th August 2014.  Since releasing their debut single ‘Casino Lights’ in July 2013, the band have picked up promising attention whilst playing shows all over the UK, as well continued support from BBC Introducing.

These guys have not even been a band for twelve months and have already achieved main support slots for the likes of We Are The Ocean, and Southampton based rockers Natives. This single is an uplifting delight for its listener, and a perfect showcase of what the band are capable of.  At the start of 2014, the band headed back to Outhouse Studios to work once again with producers Ben Humphreys and John Mitchell, who have worked with prestigious British bands like YouMeAtSix, Lower than Atlantis and Enter Shikari, to mention a few.

With a new single release on the horizon and a full UK tour next month, HOURS plan on making 2014 a year to shout about.

Hours Coming to The Shed on August 8th
Coming to The Shed on August 8th

Previously on this page:

8th May 2014

Neon Sarcastic

Our article celebrates one of Leicester’s longest-running bands.

by Trevor Locke

Neon Sarcastic – flashbacks

I have been a fan of Neon Sarcastic ever since they started (in 2007). One of Leicester’s longest running bands, NS has had a consistently good track record and has played to many fans both at local gigs and festivals and in other parts of the country.

Neon Sarcastic played at the LMF heat on 15th April at The Shed. Their brand of bouncy, dancey pop rock songs comes with a generous dollop of stage presence, built up over years of experience of performing live music. It’s a set that ticked all the boxed for me. At the front of the stage were three good singers, lead by John Willson.

The band recently lost its long-term drummer Jamie Flanagan, now replaced by the impressive Chris Swirls, a musician of equally considerable experience.

In a varied set, NS showed how they can put out music that is vibrant, energetic and appealing. On stage, they all live the music, John Willson jumping up and down in the right places and band members interacting with each other and the audience. They put on a show. It’s what NS does well and its all part of their highly entertaining package of music experience.

Neon Sarcastic is a band that stands out, they are one of the established stars of the Leicester music scene. They perform with a sparkle that flows from their energy and passion for the music they play and the songs that they deliver.
Along with other bands like Smokin’ The Profit and Formal Warning, NS has played a part in defining what Leicester music is about, where popular idioms are concerned. They always seem to headline shows. Still singing some of the old, established favourites, along side new songs and much-loved covers, they have a fan-base that includes some loyal followers who have been with them from the start. Unsurprisingly, NS won the competition tonight and went through to the semi-finals of Play@LMF.

Let’s look back at some our previous coverage of Neon Sarcastic.

Neon Sarcastic over the years

Most of these reviews are from Arts in Leicester magazine.

Saturday 6th September 2008

NS played at the Pavilion cafe on Victoria Park on a line-up that included Hinckley’s The Steptoos.

Friday 2nd January 2009, 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 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.

Sunday 15th February 2009, Neon Sarcastic and Ictus at the Flapper, Surface Unsigned.

Neon Sarcastic – Sunday 15th February – they qualified for the next round which they played and they qualified and got the industry vote and now go through to the semi-finals: The Asylum Bar and Venue, 38-43 Hampton Street, Birmingham, B19 3LS 17 July 09 – 9 Aug 09

Leicester bands through to the regional semi-finals
Neon Sarcastic (also got industry vote)
Phase 4
Pluto (also got industry vote)
Parish Revolution (also got industry vote)
The Heroes (who also got the industry vote)
Formal Warning

Following on the heals of Paris Revolution, Leicester bands Neon Sarcastic and Ictus won through to the next stage of national band competition Surface Unsigned. 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.
Power Punk veterans Ictus are now a four piece, with a new drummer, allowing Adam Gent to leave the back of the stage and get up the front with his great voice, supporting vocalists Aaron and Chris and to celebrate the new line-up, Ictus has a new sound, a rockier and more modern set of songs. It was like listening to an altogether new band but with the vintage quality of a band that has been playing for over 8 years now. Performing a great set, Ictus showed once again that they are still force in the local scene.

15th January 2010, Sumo

Read what people said on SafeConcerts

Sunday 1st August 2010

A hard act to follow? Not if you’re Neon Sarcastic. These five lads kept the party going with their high energy Power pop songs, lead by the x-factor front man John Willson, whose magnetic stage presence never waned throughout the set. They pumped out one good song after another, hardly pausing for breath between the tunes. A band full of style and character, you can easily remember a lot of their songs on the way home. A band with showmanship, they owned the stage and played to the whole crowd, not just the front row. A forest of arms went up and hands started clapping spontaneously, as the beats grabbed the people. No need for prompting here, the reaction was spontaneous. John and Bryce on vocals, backed by Adam Abbott, they have three good singers to keep the vocal layer solid. Their new song Misery, pushed the boat out musically. Whilst most of their established set is main stream pop-punk, this was altogether heavier, harder and showed they can do something fresh and new. More of that I think; it’s very much what a lot of indie bands are doing now. It certainly went down well with the crowd, who responded with a loud cheer at the end. A sizzling performance with highly entertaining songs.

Friday 5th September 2009, The Shed

After a break from the live stage to write some new songs, Neon Sarcastic took to the stage to present their set of power-pop ballads. Keeping alive the spirit of Blink 182 and Sum 41, The Neons gave us half an hour of enjoyable, up-beat, fun-filled songs, delivered with megawatts of energy. Together with Formal Warning, they turned a gig into a party. Let’s hope we see a lot more of NS on Leicester’s stages. This is a band with its own distinctive sound and image.

Friday 9th October 2009, The Pavilion

The highlight of the evening was an exhilarating performance by young Leicester pop rock stars, Neon Sarcastic. They put on a sparkling show of their own songs with a couple of nice covers thrown in. In a city renowned for its rising young bands, Neon comfortably stands out from the pack, due largely to the iconic image of front man John, ably backed vocally by guitarist Adam. Tonight they were joined for the first time by their new bassist Joe, who played well but clearly has not yet got into the swing of the live show. Their set of dance songs, throbbing with style and energy, was supported by a throng of enthusiastic fans. 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.

May 2010, Glastonbudget Festival

Neon Sarcastic brought us a delightful half hour of their pop-punk classics. A great set from the pop-punk heroes Neon Sarcastic was top, on Saturday and they also managed an acoustic set on the BBC stage. Neon Sarcastic brought the Jam Stage to a resounding finish from 9.30 p.m. with their half hour of let’s-all-dance power-pop floor fillers. The happy, clappy songs makes the crowd surge forward and the whole place is dancing, while on stage, John Willson’s boundless energy and belting stage presence is getting everyone jumping on the spot and in the right mood for the big event on the main stage. They finished in time for everyone to take their places for the spectacular show put on by Example.

Friday 15th October 2010. The opening night of Lock-42

Last on for the night were Neon Sarcastic, a five piece who again played to a big audience. Showing a wide range of styles, they got the crowd doing more of a dance action rather than a mosh one, which was much safer all round! The music did have more of a dancier feel to it, but was still up-tempo and had plenty of energy. The vocals from John Wilson have an individual sound, giving the band their unique edge.
During their set they worked the audience up into a frenzy so that the crowd could be recorded for their up-coming EP which was great fun. Neon Sarcastic put on a great show and went down really well with the crowd providing a fantastic finale to the evenings events. – Kevin Gaughan writing in Arts in Leicester magazine.

Sunday 28th November 2010, The Shed

This won’t be the last time this year that I wax lyrical about Neon Sarcastic. In fact I am going to see them tonight at their Glastonbudget Festival audition (5th December). The mighty Neon have a distinctive brand of pop punk. Leicester’s answer to McFly, they rock out some top dance numbers that can set a room alight. Featuring the scintillating front man presence of John Willson, they head up the pack of Leicester’s young bands. Youngish because they are now older than most of them. Their songs have an enduring quality, a sing them on the way home appeal. They know how to write a hit or two. they have captured the spirit of their idiom: happy, lets-get-up-and-dance pop rock. Five strong characters on the stage, they sound the part and they look the part. A team of well oiled music maniacs. I love them and so do an awful lot of other people. They are one of the bands that really can pull a crowd. They actually do have a fan base! Not all young bands can add that feather to their cap.

29th June 2011

Leicester band Neon Sarcastic have bagged a tour with the Academy Music Group. Neon sarcastic on tour with that Sunday feeling 23rd of July to the 6th august, they are playing

Manchester O2
Sheffield O2
Newcastle O2
Bristol O2
Birmingham O2
Nottingham Rock City main stage

28th August 2011, Strawberry Fields Festival

NS fans gathered for another party with the Leicester punk poppers. John limbers up on the stage and the band breaks into its first bouncy song. Bouncing around on the stage in his white trainers with their out-sized tongues and mop of blond hair, John Willson always puts on a show-class performance. Lead singer John and guitarist Adam Abbott have been friends since they were 7. They got together with Bryce, Joe and Jamie to form one of our most successful popular music bands. Today they played many of their old favourites as well as mentioning that they have a new single coming out in January. Having recently got back from a successful UK tour, they are already thinking about their next hike around the venues. Hugely enjoyable.

2nd April 2012, The Soundhouse

Leicester’s live music appeals to fans of all ages and for the younger generation there are bands that are keeping alive the spirit of pop-punk. Neon Sarcastic is a band that has established itself over several years as being one of the most popular bands for this style of music. ArtsIn gives priority to following its featured bands. For us the performance by Leicester band Neon Sarcastic was a must; more so, because this is one of the now established bands that we have followed since their very first gigs. What was interesting about tonight’s show was to see the way that they have developed their musical style. In some ways it is now less reflective of the band’s early days as aconites of Blink 182; now they have introduced heavier, harder sounds. They can start a song with a bouncy melodic line which later explodes into an incandescent burst of musical fire. NS has moved on from their early roots, introducing more contemporary riffs and rhythms, whilst still retaining the characteristic vocal layer and characteristic song writing. They are, after all, a band that has had the same line-up of musicians for quite some time now.

21st July 2012 – Neon Sarcastic at the O2

The headline act was Neon Sarcastic. They had hung the stage with three large, eye-catching banners bearing the name of the band. After a rather odd intro track the musicians walked on to the stage to the cheering of their fans and then lead singer John Willson bounced in, to even more adulatory noise. The five members of NS are all strong individuals who have worked together for several years now and perform together as finely trained team. Having followed them since they started, I have always enjoyed their lively, listen-able songs and admired the way they have continuously penned new material, whilst never letting go of their characteristic sound. They have moved on from their early Blink-182 covers to put together a set-list that reflects the eclectic influences of their members. They threw in a couple of covers (including Jessie J’s Price Tag), which they need not have done because they have a back-catalogue of their own songs, large enough to fill a headline slot. NS is a band that has worked strenuously to notch themselves up the slippery pole of live music notoriety, since they started in 2007. Since then they have penned a respectable number of songs, cultivated their fan base, (3,238 likes on their Facebook page, stands comparison to other top local bands) and always put on a good show whenever and where ever I had seen them.) With their ever-expanding portfolio of agreeable songs and passionate showmanship, they are a band that has enjoyed a place at the top of the popular music tree in our local area, for quite some time.

Record Reviews 2013

Neon Sarcastic – Chemistry Was Never The Problem – Official Music Video.  Neon Sarcastic’s latest single is out now, released on 22nd March. From one of Leicester’s longest established bands, music that shows how they never allow the moss to grow on their music instincts whilst remaining true to their individual sound as a band. Recorded with You Me at Six’s Matty O’Grady, video by Deaf Havana and Black Outs by Daniel Broadley. A crackin’ good song.

Friday 14th May 2013, Sumo

The headline act, Neon Sarcastic, were as good as ever. These guys have been entertaining crowds with their exhilarating brand of high-octane pop-punk, since they formed in April 2007. There are certainly on form tonight. They unfurl a huge multi-coloured back drop and launch into their first song. Lead singer John pumps out strong clear vocals in his characteristic voice, jumping and dancing around the stage in his ‘x-factor style’. Quality dance songs, energetic stage presence and tight production, an NS gig is always a show with a sense of occasion. They are keeping alive the tradition of popular rock. The evening has seen some remarkable performances and NS gives it a suitable finale.

Airco, Evanstar, Neon Sarcastic, Formal Warning at Sumo, 16th March 2013
by Kevin Gaughan
Following on from Evanstar was the wonderful Neon Sarcastic. This five-piece are veterans of the Leicester music scene, so it was good to see them after their spell in the studio. With regular appearances at most local festivals and around town, these guys always work up the crowd and put on a great show. Having ‘developed some attitude over the last few months’ , they are still producing their energetic, home-brewed catchy indie songs with instantly enjoyable riffs. Possibly being a little too energetic on stage as vocalist John Wilson occasionally sounded out of breath.

Band of the month on Arts in Leicester, June 2010.

The guys from Neon:
John Willson – Lead vocals (24)
Adam Abbott – Guitar, Vocals (24)
Bryce Newbold – Guitar, Vocals (21)
Joe Pasch – Bass (19)
Jamie Flanagan – Drums (23)

Leicester top power pop band, Neon Sarcastic were formed in April 2007 when John and Abbott, tired of jamming and playing acoustic sets, decided to form a band. Bryce, Jamie and Joe joined and later Neon was born.
Neon Sarcastic’s bid to play at Bedroom Jam 2012

We talk to them about the band:

ArtsIn: How long has your band been playing?
Neon: We have been together for a little over three years now, and I [John] would say we are enjoying it more now than ever.
ArtsIn: How did you meet? How did the band form?
Neon: Well Abbott and I [John] have been friends since we were about 7 but we didn’t really start playing music together till we were about 17 (no idea what we did with the 10 years in between!). We would jam together on our acoustics, play open mic nights and write songs together. We really didn’t think a duo acoustic outfit suited us. So, we went on the hunt for a band. We knew Bryce through our friend, Bryce knew Jamie and Jamie and Bryce knew Joe! The crazy thing was that myself [John], Abb, Jamie and Bryce all went to the same college.
ArtsIn: What was the first gig you played and how did it go?
Neon: Our first ever gig was at The Shed in Leicester. It was such a scary and intimidating experience. We were there, on stage, playing in front of a room full of all of our family and friends. I don’t think we moved around on stage much that gig but the feeling of being up there was amazing and we have been hooked ever since.
ArtsIn: Kind style of music do you play?
Neon: It’s a mix of Power Pop, Punk and Rock. We have some really upbeat and catchy songs, some powerful tracks and then some “Lighters in the air” songs.
ArtsIn: What are the main influences on your band? Which other bands do you like most?
Neon: I think we all have different influences and that’s what keeps our song writing interesting. I know that I [John] got into music because of New Found Glory, I got the self titled album and played it on my CD player until it broke! (I have since got a new copy).
I [Abbott] am quite influenced by Fightstar, as I ’m quite into melodic, powerful music.
ArtsIn: Who in the band writes the songs? How do you do it?
Neon: We all write the songs together. Normally one of us comes up with a riff or melody and we all just feed off of it. I think the most exciting feeling is when you write a new song, hear the finished product and play it live.
ArtsIn: Which comes first the lyrics or the melodies?
Neon: Normally the melodies. When we are writing we kind of express the melodies using “Na na nas “ or by humming it. Although there are a few songs which the lyrics have been written before the melodies like Super Dan.
ArtsIn: Have you entered competitions like OBS or Surface Unsigned? What happened?
Neon: We have entered Surface Unsigned once and got all the way to the Semi Finals. Unfortunately for us, in the semis, Surface Unsigned only assign one judge and he was walking around in a Metallica T’shirt…. Surprise, surprise a metal band got through! Ha ha.
ArtsIn: I’m wearing my lovely new Stiggz t-shirt. Will be going Surface Unsigned tomorrow but just as well, I’m not judging!
ArtsIn: Would you ever enter a competition again?
Neon: No I don’t think so. Just because of the way we went out in the semi finals last time. We felt a little cheated, but we’re not bitter!
ArtsIn: Of course not! What do you think of the live music scene in Leicester?
Neon: We love it! There are so many good bands coming out of Leicester at the moment. It’s great to be able to go to randomly go to a venue and be guaranteed a good show.
ArtsIn: Which is your favourite venue?
Neon: In Leicester? I would have to say The Musician for sound and The Music Cafe for space.
ArtsIn: What do you think of the news about the O2 Academy opening?
Neon: We think its great (and about time! ha ha). I think Leicester has been screaming out for an O2 Academy for years. We can’t wait to play there!
ArtsIn: Do you ever perform covers?
Neon: We’ve performed a few covers since we started to gig but it really depends on the show we are doing. We have recently been playing “Save it for the bedroom” by You Me At Six … seems to go down well.
ArtsIn: What plans has the band got for the year ahead?
Neon: Well we want to finish writing our new album to follow on from “Time To Smile” and record that over Easter time next year and hopefully play lots of shows in between. A mini summer tour could be on the cards too.
ArtsIn: Which other bands have you supported?
Neon: Not Advised, The Screening, Love and a .45, Hill Valley High, Ictus and many more!
ArtsIn: Have you been on radio, either having tracks played, or done an interview?
Neon: Yeah we have been on a few radio stations for interviews and our tracks are being playing on them too. I was just listening to Leicester Sound in my car a few days ago and they just randomly played “Walk With Me” which was weird but awesome!
ArtsIn: What do you think of Kasabian?
Neon: We think they have done amazingly well for themselves and deserve to be where they are now. Although we still think the earlier stuff is better than the newer stuff ha ha!

Find out more about Neon Sarcastic from

Neon Sarcastic on Wikipedia
The NS website
BBC Introducing


Scott Choucino’s photoshoot

Lazy Bear Records

See also:

Websites we like

Music diary May

Joel Owen and the Antoine Band

The World Can Wait band

The Charlotte re-opens

OBS callsbacks gig

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