The Sebright Arms, a pub turned intimate downstairs music venue, played host to a myriad of ace up-and-coming acts from Super Cat.
As we descended the stairs to the venue below the pub, the last minute addition to the lineup, Tempesst, were already in full swing. Walking through the crowd felt like the bar scene from Dazed and Confused, with the long-haired Australian duo utterly entranced by their music. They evoked hippy 80’s rock, with the lead vocalist’s voice charged with a similarity to Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker – but less grating and therefore more enjoyable. Tempesst brought the busiest crowd of the night, causing the small venue to seem less personal and more claustrophic. They ended with their latest release, ‘Tidal Wave’, a track that epitomises their retro hippy status.
Up next was Natalie McCool, an act that certainly does live up to her title (which she insists to the crowd is her actual name). Kicking things off with ‘Pins’, McCool showed her talent for balancing fierce and punchy vocals and electronic undercurrents from the off. Her voice falls somewhere between CHRVCHES’ Laura Mayberry and Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless, and it commanded attention throughout the set. Branding herself as a pop artist seems a little limiting in relation to McCool. With each track she floats from one style to the next, at times showcasing her vocals in isolation and at others working closely with the electronic elements of her music that were, essentially, second to her vocals and a bit simplistic. She debuted an unreleased track, ‘Fortress’, which warmly emitted the nostalgic image of building a fortress as a kid. She only improved throughout the performance, and ended on her strongest song, ‘Cardiac Arrest’.
McCool wasn’t the only strong vocalist of the night. YOUTH is an Italia Conti graduate called Krissy, who brought her incredible vocals to the stage with great energy. The small space only amplified her voice, which seemingly compounded with every track. YOUTH definitely amped the night up a notch, with energetic and clubby tracks that were made great by not falling into the generic formula of every chart song where the vocalist is only used to plug a lazily catchy chorus. The drums were the only instruments on stage, but to no massive effect other than some impressively fast work. The only fault was that the drum solo should have been at least twice the length, to showcase the other talent on stage. Highlighting YOUTH’s set was the punchy and relatable ‘On My Mind’, which was catchy enough for the audience to be able to sing along towards the end. Chatting to her after the set about why she didn’t play ‘Just For You’, Krissy promised it would make it onto the setlist for her show at KOKO, London (and also promised a ticket!).
The night was rounded off by the glitz and glam of Manchester four-piece Girl Friend, who opened with ‘You Lead The Way’ from their 2014 EP Arrive Alone, Leave Alone. Fronted by a brother-sister duo who oozed coolness, they offered slick vocals throughout the set, which when combined worked to make a great sound. The female vocals did however only really get utilised as backing – which seemed a bit reductive given her obvious talent. More of a combination of the two voices would open up the music to more creative styles and opportunities, of which it would benefit from. But, this by no means hindered their performance. Girl Friend brought vibrant indie-pop to the stage, with catchy tracks such as their latest single ‘Poison’ that tells listeners to “do what makes you happy / even if it makes you ill”. Another crowd favourite was the exciting ‘Monte Carlo’, which glitters with comparisons to Two Door Cinema club and their 80’s pop influences. The sound for their set was ace, and they interacted with the crowd well – even managing to get us into a bit of the dance by the end of the set.
With such a quick succession of acts and relatively short ones it’s hard to have a favourite, but we certainly didn’t have a least favourite of the talent on the night. From beginning with Tempesst to ending with Girl Friend, any of these groups could end up extremely popular in the next few years. File them under ones to watch.