After a 2018 of breaking the best new, up and coming bands from around the UK, This Feeling’s first show in Tunbridge Wells, and their last gig of the year, excelled far beyond anything I expected. The sold out crowd were treated so some storming sets from some of Kent’s finest talent, names that you’ll be sure to be hearing of more often in 2019!
There was a new level of excitement in the air as I walked into one of my all-time favourite venues for the first time in a touch over 6 months; it felt like The Forum had scalped a big touring artist. But this wasn’t an established band treating a tiny crowd to a one off show, it was 3 local bands on the rise, and it was thoroughly enjoyable to see such anticipation for new talent.
Basement Cat kicked things off with a brand of conversational noughties-inspired indie, laced with cheeky southern charm and riffs for days. Much like The Gallerys, who closed the show, it’s clear that Basement Cat understand the instrumental importance of vocals. Harmonies were well-placed, and well-written, but at no point did I feel like they were oversued or gimmicky. Perhaps more power and guts behind the lead vocals could be developed, but that is a critique that is addressed with time and live experience, and to be honest, if that’s all I can find fault in a band on first listen, then I reckon they’ll be alright. A great way to start a great night.
Suncharmer came next, and they blew me away. Psych energy injected into 60s Indie, with soaring vocals and a rhythm section hell-bent on punching you in the gut. The live sound at the Forum was put to the test with these guys, and I really want to give special praise to both sound and lighting technicians who worked the night. You were ace as well. But, but, but…Suncharmer. When a band plays a set that doesn’t necessarily stick to one exact sound, sometimes it can feel like they haven’t yet found their musical direction – Suncharmer are the exception.
As the set ebbs and flows and skyrockets between psychy grungy goodness to noughties alt-rock and then a more stripped down indie, you have to just take your hat off to a band who can do it all without it feeling tired or confusing. It was all perfectly placed and brilliantly executed, and with just 2 days of 2018 left, Suncharmer could quite well have been my favourite new discovery of the whole year.
The Gallerys then close what has already been a top, top debut for This Feeling in Tunbridge Wells, and they leave all 250 of us on a massive high. With three excellent Eps now to their name, a crowd mix of total newcomers, fans from a distance (like myself), and those who had been there since day one, all found themselves singing along from the very off.
Opening with my favourite track of their new Lucid Trail EP ‘Steady Beat’, The Gallerys had me in the palm of their hand at the get go, and their never let off. Vocally, this band are on top of their game, expertly layering delicious harmonies to fill out their retro-pop sound. Lead vocals jump between guitarist James Wood and bassist Craig Barden, neither faltering under the pressure of taking over from the other.
And then there’s Dan Maggs: drummer, hype-man, supplier of the front two rows with cans of Red Stripe, and for one 2-minute hilarious masterpiece, front-man from behind the kit. ‘Doctor Friend’, the closing track of their second EP ‘It’s up to You’ brings with it the unique humour and attitude these three lads from Kent have when they take to the stage.
Yes, they are talented songwriters. Yes, there are all talented vocalists to boot. And yes, they rightly deserve their spot at the top if a bill such as this. But The Gallerys are a band of personalities, and personalities that you genuinely enjoy spending 45 minutes of your night in the company of. If there’s a band right now that you should be paying attention to, my money’s on these guys.
Final track ‘Over the Bridge’ brings to an end a brilliant night of new upcoming bands playing three exciting and excellent sets. Get yourselves online, find them, binge on them, and get yourselves tickets to their next show near you. I imagine tickets are only going to be getting more expensive from here on out!