On the 13th of February, the four member indie band Viola Beach and their manager tragically died in a car accident in Södertälje, Sweden after playing their first international gig. The incident killed guitarist and singer, Kris Leonard, guitarist River Reeves, bassist Tomas Lowe , and drummer Jack Dakin along with their manager Craig Tarry.
The band, that formed in Warrington in 2013, had already made promising appearances on the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds Festivals. They also performed a live session for BBC Radio One and supported The Courteeners last year.
It is clear to see the band were rapidly emerging into the indie scene, comparing to the sound of The Kooks, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Circa Waves. They had big plans ahead, such as touring with the up-and-coming Blossoms, who have expressed their heartbreak at the news of their deaths and subsequent cancelling of shows and the prolonging of the ‘At Most A Kiss’ EP release. Blossoms will also play a recording of Viola Beach at one of their upcoming gigs to showcase their music.
Viola Beach were a rising band with the prospect of 2016 being their year to make a name for themselves; they were set to play South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, The Great Escape Festival, T in the Park and Live at Leeds. Sadly, these festivals will have a lineup gap to fill now the propitious young band has died so unexpectedly.
A campaign has been launched to get the band’s debut single ‘Swings and Waterslides’ to Number One with the likes of Liam Gallagher, The Stone Roses, Kasabian and Tim Burgess tweeting their support of this. Other artists such as The Courteeners and The Cribs have paid their respects over Twitter. The band’s record label Communion confirmed that the proceeds from the sale of singles will go to the families of the band. The single reached Number One on the 18th of February.
The amount of support from various British indie bands is a testament to Viola Beach’s talent and potential. Listening to their singles ‘Swings and Waterslides’, ‘Boys That Sing’ and ‘Like a Fool’, you can see why there is a campaign to give the band the recognition that their music deserves. There is an array of diverse sounds within each track with a real energetic indie vibe feel, infectious riffs and exciting melodies. Their music is fresh and lighthearted and leaves you desirous for more, which, unfortunately, cannot be satisfied. Their music is thoroughly recommendable; if only the band had produced a full album to enjoy. Without a doubt, such an album would be popular for easy-listening.
Reviews state that Viola Beach’s gigs were characterised by explosive energy, the band clearly having as much fun as the crowds. Interviews suggest the band were happy to be as fluid as possible on stage rather than upholding ‘robotic’ perfectionism and placed having a laugh as just as important as making music. Sadly, we won’t be able to witness such passionate performances nor new music from such a hopeful band who had such a successful future ahead.
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.