26th October | SWX
Photos: Jessica Bartolini
Having seen Bad Sounds progress across the venues of their adopted home throughout the years, their biggest headline show in Bristol felt like it was a particular milestone. With their album Get Better granting them slots on festivals staged far and wide, the Chippenham outfit’s infectious fun is starting to infiltrate the masses.
Occupying the opening slot at SWX was Dylan Cartlidge. It’s seeing sets like this that reminds us how integral it is to discover support acts. Gracing the s,tage as a vision in white, swaggering on in a suit that even John Travolta would marvel at, Cartlidge, accompanied with band sprung into his groove. His material jumped from raspy MCing, to spiralling down gorgeous funky rabbit holes. His vocals had a depth to them, as if a seasoned performer beyond his years, yet with the humble nature of an artist who doesn’t yet realise his full potential.
Next were indie quartet Indoor Pets. The Kent natives seem destined for a blossoming career. With sweet noodlings on guitar, paired with quirky tracks embracing the feeling of being an outsider, they stand firmly in the running as a staple indie band for those who enjoy a sure-thing easy listen.
It was time for the main event. As an almost menacing narrator filled the speakers, hyping up an already ‘hyped’ crowd, the ‘Get Better Theme’ led into a brass section welcoming the beginning of ‘Wages’. With matching red boiler suits accessorised with yellow beanies, the onslaught of leaping bodies onto the stage made it hard to determine whether Bad Sounds had dramatically expanded, or if an unknowing invasion had occurred. Fresher pieces, particularly ‘Another Man’ and ‘Banger’ allowed for much audience dancing.
It was apparent just how much the band have undoubtedly grown. Not only have they grown in numbers with their fan base, but they have developed the craft of nailing a tight set whilst retaining the same enthusiasm as if it were their first time on stage. From Olivia powering from the drums to Charlie rollicking away, together, they all share a camaraderie that is joyous to behold.
With light-hearted feeling and synth-pop permeating the atmosphere, this didn’t dilute the sheer brute force that Bad Sounds can possess. Older track ‘Meat On My Bones’ from their debut EP came with a monumental charge of gritty vocals, where the Merrett brothers, centre stage, thrashed it out. It’s this element of Bad Sounds that made them so intriguing to watch.
With hip-hop remnants underpinned by traditional indie-rock structures, the collective’s umbrella of influences make for enthralling moments. Whether dipping into funk-drenched interludes, to more downbeat pieces such as ‘Couldn’t Give It Away’, the somewhat cute persona of the quintet doesn’t overshadow or lessen the impact they possess. Rounding off with ‘Avalanche’ and ‘No Luck’, Ewan hopped into Callum’s arms as they thanked the audience for supporting them on home turf.
The only word that seems completely apt to describe the night is wholesome. From the pogoing crowd frolicking in a ball pit of balloons, to the band’s utterly charming stage presence, Bad Sounds put on a performance where you couldn’t help but feel a dizzying sense of happiness.