Images by Evelyn Sweeney
The first time I saw Sly Antics was the 19th October 2015 at a virtually empty band night at the MMU Union, we’re talking around 20 people in attendance. Sly Antics didn’t give a shit, they were the first support act for a band called Flesh, but by the end of the night, all 20 of those unassuming students were sold on the Sly Antics sound.
A couple of things have changed since last October, the trio have built up their confidence, they interact fluidly with the crowd and move around the stage like playing their tracks is second nature. Their gig sizes have also changed a little, from supporting a band to an audience of 20 people, Sly Antics have gone on to play at venues across the North of England including shows at Manchester’s Ritz and Star and Garter as well as heading over to Yorkshire for dates at the iconic Hebden Bridge Trades Club.
On Saturday the 19th of November, they performed their first headlining spot at a sold-out gig at the infamous Gulliver’s in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Considering we’ve been with the band since the beginning, we thought it only fitting we attend to see how they got along.
With support from three of the North of England’s finest up and coming indie and hard rock bands, Sly Antics weren’t the only artists that are worth a watch.
Opening the evening’s proceedings is Mint, another act native to the North, hailing from Grimsby in Lincolnshire. Their blend of hard rock and Twin Atlantic style riffs is a catchy mix that’s more than enough to turn the heads of the first wave of audience members. They’re just coming to the end of their UK ‘Happiness’ tour, and have had some recent successes on the Spotify charts in the last month or two, justifying their status as a definite “one to watch”. They exhibit most of their energy in their big finale breakdown moment, a theme that runs through the night. Well, who doesn’t like an epic finish to a strong set?
Another of Manchester’s home-grown talents, Cruel Kingdom, follows them. The trio says goodbye to guitarist Henry Beach after the night’s show, and make sure to give him a solid send-off to end their partnership. There’s a kind of Arctic Monkeys Suck it and See vibe to their set. Frontman Sam Capper has a particularly impressive voice and manages to overcome a number of technical difficulties throughout their set without too many issues. There may have been a slight over-reliance on covers through their set but overall, Cruel Kingdom bring a stripped back sound that you don’t tend to hear much of anymore in modern indie music, proving less can still be more.
The final support act, The Barmines, would have stolen the show under another headliner. Hailing from Leeds the four-piece share many of the draws of the Sly Antics trio. Pulsing bass lines, heavy riffs, strong vocals create a set that pushes the tempo to max and then a little further. If Royal Blood added another two members and tightened up their sound, we have a feeling this is what they’d sound like. Confident, loud and chaotic, well they are named after an anti-tank mine after all, what did we expect?
Sly Antics have always excelled at their live shows. Front man Sam Hudson has developed continuously since their first show on the back of a truck (which we’ll be discussing with him in an interview coming soon), right up their current headlining status. The difference for their Gulliver’s set is that the audience knows them. Tracks from their debut EP Captive City go down better than ever with an audience who now chant along. It’s something new for the band that we can expect to see a lot more of as they continue to build their fan base. Standout numbers include Lights Go Down, which was released as a single from the EP back in October, and the title track from Captive City, which works as a great live performance with blasting drums and lots of contrast between verses and choruses for the trio to play around with.
The bands set is as tight as always with no awkward pauses to break the atmosphere, Sly Antics have thought about their sets as a whole rather than track-by-track and that shows.
They also perform a number of new songs, currently in the process of being recorded for their follow up second EP. These new songs fit into their usual set with no issues, and there’s no drop in their quality. It also demonstrates that the band haven’t simply improved their set by practising their same songs over and over, they’ve developed as a band, meaning that whatever track the three choose to play is going to be performed to the same high standards as their back catalogue.
They continue to mix classics into their tracks for some added effect, an effective way to get some classic well-known musical moments into their material, including Kanye West and a Justin Timberlake shout out.
They wrap up their set at around midnight, meaning for the reasonable price of a fiver the North has managed to come together to present us with around 4 hours of quality entertainment.
Anyone who tells you the British music scene is in trouble needs to start paying attention to the new generation of bands, not just in the North but also across the UK. They haven’t quite made this into a rags to riches tale just yet, but Sly Antics and the other up and coming Northern sounds heard here will undoubtedly have a voice in the future of British music, and by the looks of it are going to enjoy the journey to that destination.
You can view a full gallery of images from the night below, courtesy of Evelyn Sweeney.