Two of indie rock’s finest new bands rolled into Nottingham’s Bodega to deliver two mesmerising sets, adding to the hype of the rising British indie-rock scene.
London four-piece Bloxx have gathered huge momentum recently with their ethereal blend of grunge and indie-rock. As they end the year with a lengthy UK headline tour, the band opted to enhance the quality of the bill with the inclusion of Scottish indie-rock band Vistas as their support. For many, they ought to be on their own headline tour by now having spent the last two years slowly releasing a stunning collection of feel-good indie rock tracks.
Tonight’s show at the Bodega offered the delightful prospect of watching two rising bands demonstrate the resurgence of indie-rock in Britain. Edinburgh four-piece Vistas opened the show with a display of happy-go-lucky guitar rock which rekindled the charm of summer in an already crowded room in Nottingham. From the get-go, it was no surprise at to why the Scottish band have been already championed by many organisations, especially streaming service Spotify, who have promoted many of Vistas’ singles to the top of their playlists. Fan favourite Strong Swimmer was the first of many anthemic chorus’ that were littered across the forty minute set. Whilst Headspace lacked the bite of the previous track, Hold Me’s cascading guitars and foot-stomping solo section delighted the masses that had already gathered, many of which were there solely for the Edinburgh band.
Lead singer and guitarist Prentice Robertson, echoing early qualities of Wombats singer Matthew Murphy, led the band with such craft – it was impossible not to be infected with the sheer energy of the performer. Vistas last performed in Nottingham at Dot to Dot Festival in May earlier this year, coincidently at the same venue, but the difference between the two performances was noticeable. Whilst May’s performance was a slightly nervy offering, tonight’s show was full of the confidence of a band who know what they want and how to achieve it.
Calm and Retrospect highlighted the brilliance of the band’s cascading guitars, whilst emphatic drums punched through any void in sound. Ending on Tigerblood, the band’s exciting combination of Circa Waves and Twin Atlantic was truly appreciated by the Nottingham crowd – with many questioning why they weren’t on their own headline tour.
With expectations set extremely high, Bloxx stepped up to the stage to deliver a roaring set to exceed all expectations. Having already supported ‘The Night Café’ and ‘Sundara Karma’, it was time for the London four-piece to take the spotlight for their own. Led by enigmatic singer and rhythm guitarist Ophelia, the alt-rock band demonstrated their grunge rock influences with Second Opinion, offering hues of Wolf Alice in the snarling vocals and emphatic breakdown. Latest single Lay Down offered a moment of respite for the crowd, with the mellow ballad acting as an energy preserve for what was to follow. As it turned out, it was following track Coke which proved to be the catalyst for the formation of mosh pits which were kept alive from this point to the very end.
Monday was a carnal offering, with an impressive light display flittering around the room, whilst the track itself demonstrated rock music stripped back to its very roots. It was a standout moment and contrasted perfectly with the funk-filled disco rock of Novocain, which possessed a brilliant pulsating base line. The band took a moment to announce the release of their new EP Headspace, which is set to be released in January, before launching into Sea Blue, the London band’s next single, which is set to be released on December 14.
The title track of the band’s next EP, Headspace, followed and was an immediate crowd-pleaser, carrying a slinking baseline groove similar to ‘The 1975’ and ‘Pale Waves’. Your Boyfriend broke down into a roaring solo section complete with behind-the-head guitar improvisation. Having thanked the crowd for their continuous enthusiasm and support, Bloxx closed the set with You – a fantastic finale complete with a stage invasion and a guitarist performing in the middle of the crowd. Something noticeable during the beginning of the band’s closing track was the impact of the drums in the live set up. Whilst Ophelia’s charismatic leadership and slightly confrontational stance is important for the band, the drums are incredibly underestimated and provide a pulsating rhythm throughout the show.
As the crowd poured out of the small venue into the night, there was no doubt that the resurgence of British indie rock was complete. The bill promised a lot, and it definitely matched expectations. With new music coming from both bands in the next few months, you can’t help but feel excited about what is to come.
Photos by Gary Coughlan