Please note: I wrote this review from the perspective of In Sulks‘ manager. I don’t know why, I thought it was funny. In all probability, these are not the thoughts, feelings, dreams and desires of the man in question. I have not run this by him because it’s likely he would ask me not to do it.
Over the course of the evening, I look over at his face. I wonder what might be happening in the machinery of his skull. What causes his eyes widen, lips contort and a glimmer of cold sweat to rest on his back? At times he nods his head other times he tuts. This is the gig, I am he. Join me, dear reader, as we journey into the mind of the South Yorkshire music manager.
INT. Record Junkee. Sheffield. In Sulks single launch.
The support band are a mistake. A mess of late twentysomethings, not very well rehearsed and as welcome as a phone call from HMRC. How many more songs do they have? The missus wants me to redecorate the front room. I could have whitewashed it twice by now if I didn’t have to worry about these prize loons.
Their equipment doesn’t work and when it does you wish it didn’t. It’s like a mod-revival Spinal Tap. Impossible to tell whether it’s genuine or a comedy performance. Designed to alarm and outrage in equal measure. If only I hadn’t cringed so many times I could have styled it out as a laugh.
At least the adult men wearing parkas think it’s good. Ah, the mainstay of the Sheffield music scene. You can always count on these retards to in Fred Perry polos, Adidas Gazelles and Paul Weller hair-dos. Ready to cheer on any weekend mod-star with a Pretty Green badge on his breast and a guitar in his hands. Stick an RAF roundel on it, these idiots will bang their heads against it with wanton disregard for their own mod-esty (geddit?).
The frontman goads the crowd, taunting them to come forward because “a gig is happening over here”. I wish he would shut up. He tells the crowd he has free lighters to hand out to anyone who smokes. A dozen mid-teenagers move forward, take a lighter and then go outside to smoke. This leaves the crowd thinner.
After seven or eight of seven or eight too many songs, they stop. Regret washes over me like a brick over a windshield. I do not feel relaxed until I notice the headliners, In Sulks, setting up their gear. All handsome and polite.
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Minutes later they start playing. People move forward without prompt. A journey across indie rites-of-passages. Love, lust, heartbreak, the fear, wanting and cigarette smoking. The reasons The Libertines are so appealing to the love-sick adolescent. In Sulks write the soundtrack to an indie coming-of-age flick set in the industrial heart of the North. Winsome but without a measure of cockiness they play with endearing enthusiasm.
They are good. They are well-rehearsed. I enjoy every minute of it.
The polarity between youthful arrogance and honest insecurity in their lyrics is profound. It rings true to anyone who has dared to upset themselves at the hands of a boy or a girl after a few drinks. “I know I said that I’d be fine but I don’t think I’ll be alright.” Giddy drums, glossy guitar combo jingles with melancholy laments from front vox. The warm glow of love against a backdrop of chaotic existential dread.
The final chords. A roar from the crowd. I embrace them in a long and powerful hug. I put my face into one of their armpits and inhale. I tell them they smell like boy sweat. The crowd slowly peters out. I reflect on the evening, briefly stopping to say hello to a very well dressed and strikingly attractive man who would later go on to write this article. His hand is strong and firm in mind as he shakes it. He tells me he’s going to write 450 words but I know he’s going to write closer to 700. I worry he is going to write something ridiculous. He walks off down the stairs. I can still feel his presence minutes after.
FADE TO BLACK.
EXT. Record Junkee, Sheffield.
RAIN BEATS DOWN IN THE WINDY NIGHT.
A HONDA JAZZ DRIVES OFF INTO THE DISTANCE.
Find In Sulks, here.