After our beloved gun crime levels, Nottingham’s music scene is a card many of the city’s students are quick to draw on when trying to impress friends. But what about the bands we’ll boast about in the future? Those that aren’t famous nationally, but that together make up the bedrock of the music scene. In 1986 The Housemartins quipped they were only the 4th best band from Hull with the album ‘London 0 Hull 4’. Well sorry lads, but based on this gig alone, ‘London 0 Nottingham 5’.
First to perform was Ryan Thomas; a young, Robert Johnson style, Blues artist with a great voice. I didn’t think it was possible to be a good blues singer without sounding like you smoke a 20 pack a day, but his voice is smooth and it works damn good. When asked what he thought of Jake Bugg’s chart success he told Impact that “there were better people who should have made it”, citing Nottingham acts such as The Most Ugly Child.
Second came solo-artist Saint Raymond, only 17 and already playing Live at Leeds in May; he’s brimming with potential. The combination of strong vocals, rhythmic guitar and a Ben Howard-esque marketability suggests potential for a popular future. He responded to the suggestion of leaving Nottingham with a businessman like realism, saying it “will have to happen eventually”. However, he then flipped his character saying, (with a chilled, surfer like, tone) that he wants to stay as long as he can “because it’s kind of cool at the minute”. Raymond’s got the rock star mentality figured.
Next, Her Majesty’s Service took the stage; they offer a strange blend of early punk mixed with Hendrix style guitar work. Something like what Refused might have sounded like if they were from the East Midlands not Sweden. Raw punk passion was definitely the band’s defining aspect, nicely rounding off their set by mooning from the stage. The mellow crowd seemed somewhat insulted by this passion and intensity- the band still consoled us they’d had their fair share of “apeshit” audiences. They seem to accept that “there’s not enough people going to watch [gigs in Nottingham]” as a sad truth. Would they ever leave Nottingham though? A firm, unified, shout of “no”.
Indie Rock band Fields played next, they were synced and absorbed in the gig, helping to create a close atmosphere in the room. Furthermore, they’re one of those bands where the lead singer’s strong accent is as important as the vocals themselves. Alex Turner of Nottingham maybe?
Boots Booklovers rounded off the night. The range of repetitive rhythms in each song combined with their oscillating vocals to create the sort of music you want to move to; it leaves you feeling pleasantly agitated. Talking potential routes to success with the band, they said they found the support slots DHP’s venues (Rock City, Rescue Rooms, Stealth and Bodega) offer local bands helpful and it was “really nice to play those sorts of venues”. However, at other times they’ve sold ‘numerous tickets’ for the venues (more than the band they were supporting for) and they’d felt “so undervalued” by the venue. “Sometimes the band gives us the crowd, other times things are reversed” they remarked.
At the end of the night I managed to get a word with Dog is Dead’s Trev who was DJ-ing at the gig. He defended the idea that bands have to make it through traditional means: “at the end of the day, the fans create the hype”, no matter how much attention Nottingham is currently getting. He comments that whilst the “Mordor-esque eye of the music industry is on Nottingham now, it’s still a “fucking, long, hard slog to success”. Listen to Trev kids, and work hard.
…Ian has been listening to Frightened Rabbit – Nitrous Gas…