First up on the bill were Leicester-based band, Escapade. The four-piece Brit-rock band both looked and sounded the part, with no questioning on my part as to how they won the SoundWaves National Music Competition 2018.
Following on from Escapade were local indie band, The Jet Reds. Drawing inspiration from Oasis, Kasabian and The Jam, The Jet Reds have concocted a mix between original indie-rock ‘n’ roll and modern-day indie rock. The band played perfectly to their obviously well-enthused crowd while conforming to a classic rock star stage presence.
Up next were heavy metal Teessiders, Saints Of War. With such a difference in genre between themselves and previous acts, the band faced a tough job of keeping the audience in their grasp. However, they pulled it off with ease and proved to be nothing less than metal heroes. They combined melodic vocals with heavy guitar (and impressive guitar playing angles) to create an original sound and thoroughly compelling live show.
The Covasettes were up next – a young Manchester band who take inspiration from bands such as Blaenavon and The Killers. The indie rock quartet were everything you would expect from a modern-day indie band, with sublime vocals mixed with immersive melodies and riffs. Their stage presence was incredible too, oozing with passion and love for what they’re doing.
Sonder Minds performed next – an indie/alternative lo-fi band from Darlington, taking hints of psychedelic elements to create their own unique sound. Frontman Paul Piper’s vocals were incredible, with obvious fan favourite ‘All I Meant’ encouraging the band to exude nothing but passion. ‘Back In the Day’ proved to be equally as well-received – its twinkly guitar and gentle drumming mixed with Piper’s lyrics was simply awe-inspiring.
Up next were Darlington quartet, The Circus Villains. Combining indie-rock with a funkier, jazz-infused sound, The Circus Villains are certainly a band containing heaps of talent. Bluesy ‘Feeling’ saw frontman Matthew Fisher ditch his guitar and take centre stage, while their classic ‘Party Fodder’ obviously pleasing the crowd as the lyrics were sung back to them and there were smiles all around.
Finally, headliners Lhymes took to the stage. Taking inspiration from artists such as Ty Segall and The Growlers, this Darlington modern-pysch band are truly very important for the North East scene. Frontman Ben Connor’s stage presence was impeccable, with his vocals nothing short of next-level magnificence. Each song was performed in such a beautifully compelling manner, with dreamy tracks ‘Is This Life’ and ‘Christo Rey’ being two performances that really created the perfect atmospheric vibe in the room. Ending with a cover of ‘You Sexy Thing’, the crowd was well and truly ecstatic, while Connor showed off his true showman-skills.
Certainly rounding the night off on a major high, Lhymes should be incredibly proud of how far they’ve come in such a short space of time – there seems to be a world full of success ahead of them.