SPINN, Monks, Cascaders, The Letrasets, Ask Elliot: O2 Academy, Liverpool

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SPINN

SPINN return home to play their biggest show, Getintothis’ David Hughes was there to see the mayhem unfold on this most special of nights.

It’s been a busy year for scouse four-piece SPINN.

Starting the year with a sold-out Arts Club Theatre show, releasing a debut album and going on a UK tour over summer, before ending the year with another UK tour, this time bigger and better and concluding it with their biggest show to date in the O2 Academy main room.

The feeling around the city over social media in the lead up to the gig has been one of great pride, seeing another fantastic home-grown artist rise and rise, to the point of headlining one of the biggest venues in the city.

We’ve seen them grow from playing The Magnet (RIP) to playing every venue, every local band dreams of playing. Their rise has been unstoppable.

The line-up for the gig tonight was a scouse teenage indie fan’s wet dream. With Ask Elliot, The Letrasets, Cascaders and Monks all in support, this was set to be the indie gig of the year.

Up first was Ask Elliot, a relatively new band on the scene, however, with a string of notable gigs, having played and won the Liverpool Rocks battle of the bands, played a slot at Sound City and having had their first headline show down at The Zanzibar.

The Southport 4-piece jangled their way through their set, with catchy vocal and guitar hooks, with rhythms that struggle to make you keep still.

It’s clear they already have a massive following, with the 1200 capacity venue almost half full to this point, which didn’t seem to faze the young band, who confidently strutted on by.

Crowd favourite 2032 went down like a storm, getting the front few rows of the crowd bouncing.

Up next were The Letrasets, who we last saw supporting Monks in the smaller Academy room last month. While in there they seemed a little on edge and shaky, the bigger venue tonight played to their strengths and we were pleasantly surprised by how good they were.

Their own take on the jangly indie pop sound that is so popular these days, adds a bit of grit, with a harsher lead guitar sound and a droning background.

Favourite tracks Dunes and Castles were expertly crafted through, cue the first mosh pit of the night, with their final song set to be their next single. From the sounds of it, it’s definitely worth checking out when it arrives.

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Third on was Cascaders, a firm favourite of ours. Bringing a more shoegaze approach to the night, Cascaders finessed their way through their set.

Unfortunately, we felt that the volume was just too loud for Cascaders, which made it difficult to hear everything that was going on within their sound. Everything that we could hear was fantastic though, with ambient synth underpinnings on most tracks, with glorious lead guitar work, enough to keep the dads at the side of the room impressed and smiling.

At one point we heard a member of the crowd describe the lead singers vocals as sounding like Kermit the Frog, not necessarily the biggest complement in the world, but with his unique voice, Dom Thornton commands the stage, coming towards the crowd in the final song, encouraging the pits to open.

They’re the second band of the night to tell us to “keep your eyes peeled”, so we’re hotly anticipating a new tune sometime soon.

Final support act of the night, Monks, could easily be headlining this venue sometime soon, they certainly have the tunes, confidence and performance quality to do so.

They’re the first band of the night to have every song sung along with by the crowd, as their pleasing psych pop sound is the perfect warm up for SPINN. They play their usual hits, DreamboatWhy Does Everybody Look The Same? and Golf to name a few, before playing a fairly new song, which seems to have a 70s disco kind of feel to, within their own instrumentation.

The trumpet, synth and guitar combination makes for an amazing sonic experience every time we hear Monks, one that we crave on the train back home as well. They end with Sundried in the biggest euphoric moment we’ve experienced tonight before the big boys come on.

And now it’s time for the big boys.

The anticipation in the room before SPINN come on is intense, a nervousness, almost, of not knowing what to expect. SPINN always put on a good show, but what will they do for their biggest headline show?

The first three members of the band walk on to Dead Or Alive’s classic, You Spin Me Right Round, which takes half the crowd a moment to work out the pun, before lead singer, Johnny Quinn, parades his way on stage in only a way he could.

We don’t quite remember what Johnny said to open the show, we decided not to take notes tonight, deciding to have a dance and just enjoy the show instead, and what a show we were about to witness.

Starting off with She Takes Her Time, SPINN effortlessly show why they’ve got to the point of headlining this amazing venue, with Johnny dancing his way round stage. Green Eyes, which we’ve not always been a fan of, was next, and it totally changed our minds on the song. The slightly darker guitar tone, matched with Johnny’s energy brought this song to life in a way we’ve never heard before.

If any of the band felt nervous, they didn’t show it, with little microphone technical difficulties not fazing them, before ripping into the next set of songs. We’ve found before that if the sound isn’t quite mixed right for SPINN, then it can affect how good they sound, however, tonight, everything sounded perfect, better than we’ve ever heard them before.

Without just listing off the set list, SPINN played hit after hit, taking each song to a new level, with the crowd reacting on another level. Over the support acts, we saw mosh pit after mosh pit. For SPINN, we saw a few of them for the big moments in some of the bigger songs, but the overall crowd reaction was to just dance like you’d dance in your bedroom with nobody watching, fairly similar to how Johnny dances really. This felt like a better reaction than having a mosh pit every five seconds.

In between playing songs off their debut EP and album, SPINN mixed in a couple of new songs, which had a more mature, grown up to feeling to them than their infamous jangly pop tunes that characterised them.

Unfortunately, we didn’t catch the name of them, but they felt like they had more a Brit-Pop vibe to them, something that would make sense if you knew lead guitarist, Andy Power.

As the gig was drawing into the last few songs, Johnny stops the show to go on a political rant, something that was warmly welcomed by the crowd. “1, 2, 3, fuck the Tories,” shouted Johnny as everyone in the room joined in. This was enhanced with Johnny running off during final song, November, before coming back with a bright red banner reading, “Scousers Hate Tories”.

As the night fell to an end, and the band left the stage, there was a weird feeling within the place, what had we just seen?

Back in 2013, there was a gig in Birmingham that had Peace, Swim Deep and Jaws, three of their best home-grown bands at the time all playing, and in the indie world, that felt like peak. Tonight felt like that.

Is this the best indie gig that we will ever see in our city? Will this gig go down in the world of indie like that Peace gig?

On a personal note, it was amazing to see my mates on stage playing the biggest show of their lives. It’s 100% the best gig I’ve ever been to, right from the first support act through to SPINN. I’ll be honest, I was in tears at the end.

What. A. Night.

Images by Getintothis’ Billy Vitch

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