15th October | Crofters Rights
Excitement and anticipation is brewing even before doors open for tonight’s show at The Crofters Rights, as Sunset Rollercoaster arrive in Bristol for the first time. Die-hard fans – already sporting ‘My Jinji’ t-shirts – eagerly gather outside, immediately giving the show an atmosphere reserved for much less intimate settings, and it’s a pleasant change. It shows just how word has spread about the six-piece, a band from Taiwan whose music has become pretty universal with a lot of thanks to exposure on YouTube. As it’s made evident tonight, such attention is deserved, the band’s intrinsically thought-out and highly compelling sound thoroughly fit for widespread consumption.
With the prompt arrival of such devout support, Sock are afforded a pleasingly substantial audience for their opening set, a bubbling mixture of sumptuous, jazzy pop and lackadaisical, hopeful wordplay that makes for a pleasingly rich combination. The four-piece from Cardiff are perhaps even more playful live than on record, an element of improvisation injecting a touch of hypnotism into the warm and endearing atmosphere. The tangible angst and yearning desire that hangs within their songs are the most pleasing elements of their sound, finely drawn but enticingly evocative.
Ellie Bleach are making a name for themselves with their unwavering dead-pan character and tropically-infused synth-pop and live, they’re even more emphatic. Funky, yacht-pop-style guitar placidly trails under whirring, minimal keys. The band’s harmonies act as a coy juxtaposition to Bleach’s at times mournful and droll lyricism. As they close out with ‘Leave Me Alone’, Bleach lets loose, her mellow vocal blossoming as she sings, “Modern life is so cruel, I can’t even check my phone without finding pictures of you.”
Paul Cherry sets the over-arching theme for the evening, one of benevolent pop that is unconventional, endearingly intimate and utterly arresting. Playing as a six-piece live, the more psych-infused elements of songs from his debut record, Flavor emerge, the lovelorn, honeyed synths that simmer with melody at the forefront as Cherry casually coos along with an amiable sigh. ‘Like Yesterday’ has the crowd bopping enthusiastically, while ‘This High’ and ‘The Comeback’ rings with the band’s more eclectic tastes, a sense of 60s eccentric songwriting infiltrating Cherry’s hyper-modern worries and crafting something indelibly timeless. It’s a wonderful set that could easily have closed out the show.
The romantic exuberance lingers as Sunset Rollercoaster take to the stage. The six-piece make music that burns with the sentiment and finality of a high school prom, transforming Crofters into a school hall (without the gaudy decoration) and Sunset Rollercoaster are, of course, genuine entertainment rather than a tacky, lacklustre covers proposition. Record opener ‘Almost Mature ’87’ couldn’t be a better example, as as the stadium-pop sounding rhythm section let loose under Kuo’s pitch-perfect vocal for an emphatic introduction.
The range of percussion on offer plays a more atmospherically-impactful role live, allowing the songs to be hugely vibrant, while the saxophone that fills the room evokes all manner of nostalgia and other very present emotions. As they break into ‘Burgundy Red’, you realise the massive disco ball that practically engulfs the ceiling of Crofters has never suited a band playing here more, and that, much like Paul Cherry, Sunset Rollercoaster possess this perpetual quality that’s precious and rare. It’s honest and guilt-free pop, and wins over the many in attendance tonight.