The Mic Awards 2019: 2020 Artist to Watch

Winner: Do Nothing

Photo: Dan Kendall

Fighting off strong competition, editor-in-chief Cameron Chadwick explains why Nottingham’s very own Do Nothing are entering the new year and the new decade as The Mic’s 2020 Artist to Watch.

A post-punk tour de force with a grippingly concise catalogue and an electrifying live show, Do Nothing have proved themselves to be a truly unique prospect in 2019 not just in the world of post-punk, but in rock music as a whole. Made up Chris Bailey (vocals), Kasper Sandstrøm (guitar), Charlie Howarth (bass) and Andrew Harrison (drums), few in their home city of Nottingham will be unfamiliar with a band at the pinnacle of local success now spilling into national recognition, but those who’ve witnessed their gigs will have anticipated their potential much further in advance.

A sold-out headline show at The Bodega in March was as much a mission statement as it was a concert; with just two songs released, we wrote of the “Thrilling energy in the room which exploded at the climax of each song.” The release of landmark single Gangs followed a couple of months later and with airplay on Jack Saunders’ Radio 1 Indie Show, the rip-roaring yet cryptic expression of youth, defiance and societal expectation launched Do Nothing into a stratospheric slot supporting Interpol at the Adrenaline Stadium in Moscow.

It would be an injustice, however, not to mention the plethora of festivals the band garnered more eyes from, including Splendour, Y Not? and Reading & Leeds in the UK, as well as BIME in Spain and London Calling in Amsterdam. The most galvanising of them all was a secret headline slot at the Hockley Hustle, as a packed-out Rough Trade upstairs tried their best to break the ceiling with the famed Gangs mosh-pit.

Topping the year off was a UK tour, featuring the band’s biggest headliner yet at Rescue Rooms, and the release of their most focussed release to date in LeBron James. Following the victim of an outlandish hustle, the funky live staple boasts Bailey’s familiar roundabout diatribe, yet with a chorus groove that allows the urgency of his singing to burn through while he switches to portray the conman’s point of view. The trademark obscure references aren’t lost in the hustle however, as Bailey contemplates “It seems kinda fishy to me but the monorail is king”, a wink to the Simpsons episode Marge vs. The Monorail, in which Springfield is conned into spending its funds on a sham monorail by a sharply dressed stranger.

Photo: Chloe Hashemi

Whether it’s the cartoon genius of LeBron James or the nods to 1940s French tragedies and American stand-up comedy in Gangs, Bailey’s idiosyncratic lyrical style adds layers to Do Nothing’s sonically accessible discography, and allows him to develop the tipsy, pretentious and rambling on-stage persona. Truth be told, we have no idea what to expect from Do Nothing in 2020, but the unshakable replayability of their catalogue to date causes one to hope for an extended release to fully allow the band to weave a narrative across several tracks. A mouth-watering prospect both live and on repeat at home, Do Nothing seek to establish themselves as true usurpers of the post-punk throne.

Earlier in the year, The Mic caught up with Chris Bailey for our online-exclusive Big Read feature, delving behind the scenes of the band and into the mind of the integral frontman. Read it here.