15th April 2015
Waltzing at the Soundhouse
with Neon Waltz, The Jangles and Bloodsugar
Twelve hours drive from the Soundhouse in Leicester, there is a Scottish county called Caithness. It has a county population of approx 35,000, about the size of a Leicester suburb. From that county comes a band called Neon Waltz. I’d seen them as one of an audience of four, late last year. The event was on a Sunday night and had virtually no promotion. Luckily one other member of that minimalist audience was Greg Poole, events manager at the Soundhouse and he booked them for a speedy return and a much better turnout.
We’ll come back to Neon Waltz later. The evening started off with relative newcomers to the Leicestershire scene, Bloodsugar, from Loughborough. I’ve seen them four times now, the time previous to this being the OBS Callbacks, when the band was disappointed not to progress to the semis. I thought that night was the weakest of the four times I’ve seen them, somehow missing the natural effervescence these guys normally exude on stage and not doing themselves justice vocally.
Tonight was a different story. Back was the effortless unassuming confidence and although the band confessed to a few mistakes, I didn’t hear them and the set flowed smoothly. Bloodsugar’s music is self-described as a mix of light and heavy indie-rock. I would add anthemic rock to the description. The band play mostly up-beat catchy songs with a powerful dual guitar sound which for one song is augmented with some keyboards from a prostrate Luke Immins, as lead singer Callum assumes the role of second guitarist. I like the way some of the songs ebb and flow as they slow them down before building the sound back up. They demonstrate their adaptability by adding in a slowed down number, Kaleidoscope, before returning to upbeat rocking. The band has a great sound and play with a refreshing, visible, natural enjoyment of their music. If they keep up this latest level of performance and continue writing new material of this quality, I can see a very bright future for Bloodsugar. You can catch them at a number of Leicester venues as well as further afield in May.
The Jangles. I’ve not seen The Jangles before but a little bit of research reveals them to be another recently formed Leicestershire band, apparently formed towards the end of last year. Describing themselves as a band with a back pocket full of toe tapping riffs, it’s a description that fits well and their music goes down well with the crowd tonight. The music is upbeat and catchy and they deliver a pacey set, with quite distinctive vocals. I liked the occasional foray into more instrumental segments of songs, a bit of a departure from the norm in the crowded indie rock sector. I’ll need to see the Jangles a few more times to give a fuller report and ideally hear some more new material, to see how they develop their sound. In the meantime, I’ll sign off by apologising for not being able to resist saying the Jangles’ music could be described as ‘jangly’.
Finally tonight we have our headline act, Neon Waltz, who luckily don’t have a 12 hour drive ahead of them after this gig – they are playing in Hull the following night and have settled for the luxury of a Markfield Travelodge.
I first came across Neon Waltz’s music when they did a cover of the Deerhunter song, Helicopter. I’d not managed to get into Deerhunter and passed up the chance to see them in London with my son but Neon Waltz has convinced me to give them another try and I’m glad they did. Having seen Neon Waltz at the O2 late last year, I sort of knew what to expect but it was so much better with a decent crowd. I’m not quite sure how to categorise their music. It has touches of psychedelia, alt-rock, anthemic rock and shoe-gaze and is always melodic. Often there is a melancholy feel to the songs, not in a depressing way but more a contemplative moodiness. The band play a very tight set and include what I would call one of their signature songs, Bare Wood Aisles but omit Sundial, which for me was a shame as it is probably my favourite of theirs. With quick bursts of dialogue with the crowd the set moves through too quickly for me but as with good food, it’s better to walk away wanting more than to feel stuffed. The band hangs around afterwards and chat to many of the crowd; no aloofness here and it’s great to get a bit of background and insight into this exciting new band. Their remote location frees them of local influences and they have been very much left to their own devices to write what they want by Atlantic Records. Speaking of Atlantic Records, the band released a limited edition vinyl of 500 pressings on Atlantic. It sold out in less than 24 hours. Add this to NME’s backing as one to watch in 2015 and you can see why there is a buzz around Neon Waltz.
I’m hoping this will be one of those nights I can look back on and say ‘I was at one of their gigs before they broke big’. These are talented musicians and songwriters but most importantly they are really nice people. Safe journey home guys and hope to see you back in Leicester soon with another crowd increase factor of at least 10.