By Matthew Hayhurst, Third year, History
'Are Sports Team the ‘Next Big Thing?', Matthew Hayhurst reviews Sports Team at Rough Trade.
For as long as there has been ‘Rock n’ Roll Music’, there has been a rich tradition in the British music press of touting any band with a few catchy riffs and a charismatic frontman as the ‘Next Big Thing’. Sports Team very much fall into this category. This is a band at the forefront of the current Post-Punk Revival-Revival. Or is it Post-Post Punk Revival? Who cares. The question that must be asked here is are Sports Team the ‘Next Big Thing’ in the way that bands such as Milburn, The Rifles and The Ordinary Boys were during the last guitar band revival?
Without meaning to ruin the content of the rest of this review, they are. From start to finish Sports Team delivered a blistering set (quite literally, as both my shoes fell off on separate occasions, leaving me to scramble through the mists of moshing fifteen year olds to find them), delivering tracks from their debut EP Winter Nets, as well as from this month’s Keep Walking! EP. Despite this only being released two weeks ago, the aforementioned fifteen year olds already knew every track on the record word for word.
Lead singer/songwriter Alex Rice joins the illustrious ranks of thoroughly Englishwith a capital ‘E’ songwriters from Ray Davies of The Kinks to Damon Albarn of Blur, with his wry, semi-ironic takes on middle class tedium. Very few artists have the ability to get a crowd screaming back lyrics such as “Sunlight splashes off a bonnet on the M5… it’s an open wide motorway” and “I wanna buy you a flip-screen Motorola”, but Rice and Sports Team in their inimitable style, manage to make it work. The band borrow liberally from both The Kinks and Blur- the introduction to their song ‘Ski Lifts’ sounds suspiciously similar to ‘Johnny Thunder’ by The Kinks, and the rest of the song would not be at all out of place on Blur’s Modern Life is Rubbish album (that is, if Blur were as willing as Sports Team are to admit their aggressively middle class background).
The band’s onstage dynamic shouldn’t work, but it does. Their keyboardist stands stoically in the right hand corner, barely moving once during the whole set. Juxtaposed with this is the onstage antics of frontman Rice, who peacocks around the stayed like a man who has spent one too many late nights analysing the ‘How to perform like Mick Jagger’ Wikihow article. The rest of this sextet spend the roughly hourlong set just pretty much doing their own thing. Sounds jarring- it is, but in the best way possible.
I could not write this article without giving a special mention to Bristol-based support band Haze. Despite the fairly unassuming name, Haze are anything but this. Their frenetic energy was enough to grab the attention of an audience clearly there to see the headline band and the headline band only, something which very few support bands are able to do. After their set I heard a Miscellaneous Rough Trade Hipster Type describe them as 'a post-punk Arctic Monkeys’. Objectively speaking, this is inaccurate- but go and see them when you get the chance to anyway.
But I digress; this is an article about Sports Team. It would be rash, hell, it would be naïve of me to pass judgement on whether or not they are going to be the Next Big British Band. But if I were a gambling man, I would put my neck on the line and say they could well be. If in 10 years’ time the name ‘Sports Team’ means about as much as the name ‘Milburn’ does now, feel free to bring this article up and ridicule me.
Featured Image: Sports Team/ Facebook
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