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- Ivory Wave play to an immense crowd at the Sonic Gun Weekender on August 18th
- The three-day festival sees over twenty of the best Midlands bands take to The Castle and Falcon
- Birmingham music giants Sugarthief, The Cosmics, Violet and more stormed Saturday’s stage
After the seismic proportions of Friday’s line up at The Castle and Falcon, the roster of acts for Saturday’s Sonic Gun Weekender had big boots to fill (you can read our review of Day 1 of the Sonic Gun Weekender here). Clearly the most popular day amongst the B-Town/Madlands/whatever fans, the Moseley venue was bursting at the seams with devoted local music lovers.
Openers Sleepy Heads are a second coming to their 2000s indie inspirations. The rush of The Vaccines, the cynicism of The Strokes, the zingy, fresh guitars of Circa Waves, it’s all there. Their debut single ‘Sideways’ was a peppy jolt of energy to kick start the weekender, reverberating feel good indie throughout.
Next up Karkosa, a band who introduced themselves as “The band with a lot of South Korean fans” added a twist of ’90s rock to their chord heavy, definitively alt rock sound. Subtle synths trickled through new single ‘Mango Tree’, whilst ‘Red Hoodie’ was a Killers-esque monologue that set the pace for the powerful, dramatic finale of crowd favourite ‘Sheffield’.
Combining guitar riffs reminiscent of Seattle grunge and the enigmatic stage presence of ’70s rock and roll stars, The Novus made a whirlwind first impression. Bass lines are plucked straight from classic rock, laying the way for lightning fast drums, searing high notes and pure, tenacious drive. A cover of Cage the Elephant’s ‘In One Ear’ fits The Novus’ tight set as they rip through guitar solos and quick fire lyrics with ease.
With smeared lipstick and cowboy tassels galore, Cave Girl erupted into an indie glam, retro rock explosion. The reverb clad guitars added a Western sound, which was almost as wild as frontman Ed Quigley’s stage persona. Commanding and mystical, Cave Girl kept the crowd entranced, even through an impromptu jam session during technical difficulties. Guitars chime as an essence of Bowie glam aids the shift from rock and roll highs to waves of ’60s psychedelia, duelling and encapsulating one another for a metamorphosis of sound that embodies pop culture, seduction and retro rock and roll.
Another other-worldly crowd commander, Violet completely change the atmosphere as the crowd became completely magnetised. Waves of Britpop-infused grunge emanated from the stage, lucid flows of reverbs and heavy bass lines created supersonic pulses in tracks ‘Feel’ and ‘Jaded’. The once calm, day time crowd transform into the frantic, devoted fans that Violet have gained in their short, but impressive time as an indie outfit.
Next act, The Cosmics, have managed to completely reinvent modern punk. Raw anger and heartbreak was chewed up and spat back out as a goosebump inducing, deadly venom. The insanely addictive eruption of drums, the sheer insanity of shredding guitar and the bold, frank lyrics that take no shit from anyone, all wrapped up in a chasm of short, spunky tracks. There was no pause from the mania, and not even a breaking bass could stop the detonation of roaring punk. Make sure not to cross The Cosmics, you could be the next victim of their pure punk poison.
Arguably a more tamer sound than their predecessors, Sugarthief still managed to send the whole venue into a frenzy with feel good indie, dripping in shoegaze ballads and adolescent nostalgia. Punchy riffs were led by heavy bass lines and quick witted lyrics, whilst new tracks teased from their upcoming EP got the reception any established band would dream of. ‘Where Did It All Go Wrong’ was the perfect excuse for the frenetic fans to rip through dancing groups and crowd surf below the glowing lights. Sugarthief’s cover of Peace’s ‘Money’ (a track that was a concrete element of their earlier gigs) set the venue ablaze with fans storming the stage: a grand finale to an adrenaline fuelled set.
Ivory Wave are the essence of Madchester in a new age for Birmingham. A revival of the drug fuelled ’80s and ’90s sounds of Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, hinted with flickers of funk riffs and topped off with echoes of lyrics biblically chanted by the audience. Pint of Guinness in one hand, inflatable alien in the other, the charismatic swagger compliments the ‘live forever’ mentality of Ivory Wave. As singer George Johnson takes to the floor, a mash up of hip-hop, Britpop and funk fully takes hold into a completely unique sound.
The future of music has Ivory Wave (and of course, the other Sonic Gun Weekender acts) in it, and Birmingham knows it. With their feet firmly planted on the ground (unlike the alien that floated off into the crowd) Ivory Wave have the drive and feel good sound to captivate the country, flying the flag for Birmingham when they inevitably infect the airwaves.
Photographs by Paul Reynolds