It was a Thursday like no other. I’d finally taken the sixty quid plunge and made my way up north to what can only be described as the utterly dismal town of Stoke-On-Trent. It was cold, wet and grey the entire time I was there. However, this isn’t an insight on how depressing the north of this great land is. Nor is it a review on how cheap a round of drinks are (about £11 if you’re wondering). The senior ICM team and I managed to catch Clean Cut Kid at The Sugarmill. It was a Thursday like no other. I’d finally taken the sixty quid plunge and made my way up north to what can only be described as the utterly dismal town of Stoke-On-Trent.
It was no mere coincidence that we chose that fateful Thursday to all meet up as a team of four for the first time. A big part of it was down to one of the support slots. Long time home-boiZ and beloved favourites of ours, Marsicans, were actually opening. The energetic and lively four-piece from Leeds are no doubt on their way to becoming a premiere indie dream band. What strikes me with these lads is how effortless their music is. They look like they’re having so much fun it almost doesn’t sync with how awesome they are live. What has to be admired is how jam-packed every song is with such a large vary of harmonies, lead and follow guitars and heart crashing symbols. Not too mention how bloody catchy that song ‘Swimming’ is… Arseholes had me singing that tune all night.
Next up we were treated to Callum Beattie. Having never seen or heard this young man before, he certainly took me by surprise. Personally, for someone to really have the “IT factor”, they need to look the part. Callum has no problem in that department. He’ll certainly be a hit with the ladies (or gents). His general swagger and tones ooze sex appeal and his songs are certainly on par in that department. Although I felt he was a yard from your traditional indie rock, the young man and his band are definitely onto something special with their pop rock which I have no worries in believing will be listened to by the general public real soon on the likes of Heart and Magic radio.
The first time I saw Clean Cut Kid was a few years ago. I was covering a Circa Waves gig in London when these guys just so happened to be supporting. They came out and played Vitamin C and I was instantly hooked. A few years and a break-up later, I’m in Stoke watching them on their headline album tour. As always, the CCK gang brought the grooves and thunder to The Sugarmill with a high octane and energetic set filled with audience participation, great stage presence, humor and some bald guy (I think his name was Dave). I never knew Mike was such a lord on Guitar. When it was just him and he started licking out some funky-ass rhythms I was in awe. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of the best guitarists music has to offer and he’s a natural born picker. He makes his fillers and solos look easy and it has to be admired.
I think everyone around me was starting to get fed up with my persistent nagging for my favourite CCK song, ‘Felt’. The song has such a fantastic buildup which I’d been dying to hear live ever since I reviewed the album. The song starts. We’re getting past the choruses. I turned to Steve and said “When it comes in, we go fucking mental”. I thought he was down. Mike and Evelyn shout ‘I FELT IT FOR YOU’. The breakdown slams in, I get the flavour and start bouncing around like a kid on crack. NOBODY else is joining in. I’m banging shoulders with people. I’m jumping so high, Steph Curry would be proud. It was an experience and I have absolutely no shame because that how CCK make me feel.
Although Stoke is an absolute shithole. I did fall in love with The Sugarmill as a venue and look forward to my next venture up north. This time, I’ll be sure to bring a coat with a hood.