Who: The Wytches, Slaves, Fat White Family and Palma Violets. Why: To showcase the best of alternative music, or the bands that have been lauded over by NME hacks.
Date: February 25, 2015
Venue: Rock City
The NME Awards Tour 2015 With Austin, Texas, to give it its full ridiculous name, is not only the annual debauched and depraved drunken jolly for four of the NME’s favourite bands, but it’s also a platform for bands to fling themselves off of with the hope of breaking the mainstream. Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Coldplay… they all found stardom via a leg up from this tour.
There are other factors in those bands’ success of course, but this tour has been a prolific launchpad over the years.
And those bands weren’t even the headliners.
So, with trouble in the Amazing Snakeheads’ camp leading to their cancellation – and split, it would later emerge – The Wytches have a hell of a chance to propel their brand of doomy, neo goth-grunge into the stratosphere.
The trio are hairy, loud and brash, and soundtrack a gradually-filling Rock City. There’s even a tiny bit of moshing during their slim 30-minute set.
Slaves are getting some positive press of late, and it’s easy to see why. The garage-punk trio from Kent are like the younger siblings of Sleaford Mods, with the same abrasive rants and acid-tongued Devil-may-care attitude.
Frontman and stand-up drummer Isaac Holman pummels his drumkit like it just insulted his mother, while Laurie Vincent’s crunching, ruthless riffs galvanise their sound.
It’s a kind of amplified thuggish street poetry, and with White Knuckle Ride, new single Feed The Mantaray and closer Hey proving the highlights as the crowd jump around like loons, there’s a real sense that this band have hit that launchpad at full pelt.
Fat White Family start their set accompanied by a man in military jacket and shades, ranting abstractedly into the mic. Eventually, the six-piece weirdo bedsit noise rockers show up and range from the claustrophobic (Auto Neutral, Cream of the Young) to the suggestive sonic jangle of Raining in Your Mouth.
Front man Lias Saoudi gyrates and fondles himself throughout their howling and heavy set. And it wouldn’t be a Fat White Family gig without Saoudi entering the crowd half-dressed during Touch the Leather.
Palma Violets are tonight’s headliners. They owe a lot to The Ramones and The Libertines. In fact, combine both bands, add a swirling psychedelic organ and a front man in Samuel Thomas Fryer who looks like the gangling entity that is The Manics’ Nicky Wire in full undertaker mode (complete with daft hat) and that’s Palma Violets.
They’re not short of tunes that’s for sure. The excellent Step Up For The Cool Cats, the understated adolescent anthem 14 and their coup de gras Best Of Friends, all get the crowd bouncing as one.
But it was perhaps their new album’s title track that went down best with fans. Danger In The Club was only unveiled online last week but fans still chanted along to every word.
Palma Violets may be top of the bill, but this year’s NME Awards tour belonged to Slaves, who captivated and held our ears hostage throughout their mighty set.