As I write this, less than two hours ago I witnessed an astounding showcase of some of Nottingham’s best local talent, and I swear on my mum it was the most exciting thing that’s happened since JOY MUMFORD claimed her winning spot last year. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, everyone is currently at the celebratory after party at Bowery Club; Yes, I was just too enthusiastic about telling you all about it to start necking Tequila. I know, I’m so boring… I just hope someone is filming Team Nusic’s killer dance moves.
So, I know you’re probably a teeny bit sick of hearing about it, but just in case there’s anyone out there who’s been living in the caves; the Future Sound of Nottingham gave six acts the amazing opportunity to play Rock City’s main stage. For most of the Nottingham artists out there, that’s a dream come true. Plus, the winners get to open the main stage at Splendour Festival in July to 20,000 people. Pretty good, that.
At 6:30pm, the public began to swell through the doors; the judges started to actually turn up; and the night was ready to begin. CHESHIRE AND THE CAT kicked things off with their funky blend of Jazz and Soul. You could tell by the intermittent bursts of laughter from singer Sally that they couldn’t quite believe what was happening. The audience were going crazy, especially the grandma at the front. Though, it was probably because it looked like her living room had come to life and started a jazz fusion band. Which reminds me, Lampshade Head was bustin’ out ALL KINDS of wild moves. They provided a seriously feel-good set that left everyone dancing and smiling. What a perfect opener.
Next up, bringing some Pop Punk to the diverse mix was 5-piece band AS DECEMBER FALLS. They began their set in complete darkness, building up some intense anticipation until finally delivering some big flashy lights and EXTRA LOUD NOISES. The audience connection with these guys was spot on, especially when they asked the 700-odd people to participate by ‘woah’-ing to their song. Everyone loves a chance to show off their impeccable ‘woah’-ing, don’t they? The whole audience was more than happy to oblige. Finishing their set with some traditional hair flipping and power stances, this bunch won the crowd over by showcasing their ability to rock out on the most Rock ’n’ Roll stage in Notts.
It was pretty surprising to see JOSH WHEATLEY come on to the stage and not instantly pick up his guitar. Starting with his latest song ‘Close’, Josh and his band were illuminated by blue lights and mist, perfectly complimenting his haunting, resonating vocals. It instantly gave me goosebumps. By his second song, everyone had seemed to have been able to get over said goosebumps and started clapping with their hands above their heads. I was still in awe though, I’ll admit. It was beautiful. Josh and his band absolutely smashed the whole performance, and now the lyric ‘You will never take this from me, not even if push comes to shove’ seems all the more meaningful.
Following Josh was Indie Rock 5-piece SUSPECT ALIBI, who appeared to have brought EVERYONE THEY’VE EVER KNOWN along to the gig. Even fellow Notts band IN THE TEEPEES were there, starting mosh pits like the Indie ruffians they are. As the boys began their set with recent single ‘Roadside’, the crowd became progressively mental; some dancing, some flailing, some even managed to get atop the shoulders of their mates for a better look. The final song had everyone singing the lyrics back at them, and I could tell it meant a lot.
The penultimate finalist was ELLIE KEEGAN, who came onto the huge stage looking teeny tiny, but produced music that made her fill the whole room. After taking off her shoes and incorporating a loop pedal into her songs, I overhead someone compare her to Ed Sheeran, which I thought was absolutely spot on! Before her second song, she asked the audience to put their lights on their phones – it’s something she’s always wanted to do but hasn’t had the chance because ‘it’s not that good in a pub full of four people’. Sure enough, the whole room lit up and after that, I actually saw a man frantically try to download a funky looking torch app on his phone, to join the rest of the audience in their unified glow. Throughout her set, Ellie displayed her incredible talents and captivating, humble personality, and ended up completely winning over everyone in the room.
Witnessing a man wearing a THE CHASE t-shirt jumping up and down with excitement was an indication that it was time for them to finally bring the competition to an end. Their first song immediately started a huge mosh pit. It was really something to behold; three teenage boys making the Rock City main room completely lose their shit. Their final song particularly grabbed my attention, due to the Egyptianesque harmonic scales and crescendo of sped up instruments at the end. They definitely made sure of a memorable performance.
So, now that all the competing artists had played their hearts out on the stage, it was up to me and the rest of the Nusic team to attempt some basic maths as we added up all the scores (it was so hard, guys). But, we didn’t want you lot awkwardly pottering around like you’re at a school disco; so as is tradition, we had a special guest performer. Following in the footsteps of SAINT RAYMOND, INDIANA, and GEORGIE this year we had LIAM BAILEY. This guy’s a rockstar; he’s played in arenas, had a Top 10 Single with Chase & Status, and is releasing his debut album next month. Playing that stage was well overdue for him. Liam put on an incredible performance! His Soul, Reggae and Blues inspired vocal was an amazing sound to hear; as if the voices of Bob Marley or Otis Redding were being channelled through him.
Well, after the special guest, it was of course the moment we were all waiting for. After we added up all the scores (and ran around a little bit more, just for good measure) Mark Del introduced the acts back on to the stage, which was a bit hard when one of the six bands has eight people in it… and there we were, the big moment. Mark revealed that in third place, we had… JOSH WHEATLEY!
Coming in at second place was… ELLIE KEEGAN!
Finally, I can reveal that the winner of the Future Sound of Nottingham 2015 is…
Now it’s sleepy time. Very happy Emily sleepy time. Big love Nottingham, you smashed it!
Yours in Love of New Music,
Emily Rose Malone x