The Sunflower Lounge
Review by Jed Zed
We’re back again. It’s Wednesday. It’s the Sunflower Lounge. And it’s another cracking line up brought to us by Indie Midlands again.
Kicking tonight off is Worcestershire-based, experimental psych band, Sedated Society. Combining warbling, hypnotic guitar instrumentals with deep basslines and fast drumming rhythms, this band bring the psychedelic sounds of the 60’s into the modern age without crossing too far into the realms of stoner rock. They avoid the risk of being overindulgent in the instrumentals expertly, developing rapidly with increasing complexity and layering the melodies.
What really makes this band is the raw vocal talents of Chris Phee, his passionate delivery cutting through the noise. For a relatively new band, they are well rehearsed and confident in their material. An absolute pleasure to watch.
Tonight’s billing is jam-packed, there’s only a short pause in proceedings before the punk rockers of Stourbridge’s SPIT take to the stage. Led by Alisa, this band open with a true rock staple; a good old fashioned mosh pit. From this, the crowd is alive with movement as Spit work their way through a selection of punk and alt rock covers. Although beset by some technical difficulties, they pull through with a solid, chaotic set.
In anticipation of the first headline, I decide to readjust my viewing position and take up a raised perch upon the stair adjacent to the floor. This would prove to be one of the best/ worst positions to be in, you’ll understand why soon enough.
Opening with a rallying cry to bring everyone back to the room, there was only so long the band could delay. A deep, relentless bassline, layered with choppy riffs and high energy drumming rhythm; Gen and the Degenerates explode into action. And the crowd is with them, headbanging to the aggressive sounds. Gen leads from the front, cutting a striking figure amongst the Degenerates as she struts confidently across the stage. Her vocals break through the madness, whilst her raw magnetism and sensuality captivate the audience. She adopts the floor as an extension of her space as she roams freely around the room, at one point kicking off her shoes to climb onto the banister.
At this point I never thought I’d be this close to the action, and felt exposed (I was bombarded with camera flashes and I’m surprised I wasn’t blinded). Even so it was fantastic, watching the crowd worshipping Gen like a god as she clambered across the stairs. Yet she does not draw all the attention; the band performs together as one, each member commandeering their own space on the stage.
What is truly one of the best elements of this band’s performance is the enjoyment they’re taking from being on stage. It doesn’t seem staged or forced by any stretch, as polished as grungy alt rock can be. They are giving it their all despite the unfortunately sparse crowd. At the end of the day, you’ve got to play the room you’re in, even when the crowd was nowhere near the size they deserve.
And finally, to top off this lineup is Swindon based alt rock band GETRZ. This four piece band bring the noise, combining rough cut, punky riffs and energetic rhythm with harmonised vocals to produce their unique take on modern indie rock. Whats more this band plays with style and flare; each member has their own stage personality, from the steely dead gaze of lead singer Josh Heather, to the Strummer-esque restless leg of guitarist/vocalist Dec Casey, or the overall cheekiness of bassist Toby Pollitt, and last (but by no means least) the high focus of drummer Dan Geary.
Each song tells a different story with GETRZ, the lyrics are explicit and relatable. ‘Bite’ and ‘Annie’ takes us right back to the height of indie rock in the early 2000’s, with Artic Monkey-esque harmonised vocals telling the stories of heartache. At times, Heather takes a moment to pull the crowd in closer to dial it back in sobering, sombre intro to songs like ‘How Do You Think I Feel?’. These rapidly build into hard hitting choruses, powerful chords and emotionally charged vocals.
The crowd is alive for the whole performance, feeding their energy to the band and fuelling their relentless performance. One moment they’re crashing about in a chaotic pit, the next they’re arm in arm, swaying calmly. And finally, to top it all off, the crowd surges forward to invade the stage. A fantastic performance and an amazing atmosphere.