Beat It: Katie Sky, Wasuremono, Phoenix Club, Sam Brockington @ O2 Academy, Bristol, 05/06/2017

Sam BrockingtonAccompanying me to this gig are three hard-to-impress women. I'll refer to them as: 'Miss Musical', 'Miss Masters' (of Psychology) and 'Miss Math'. I need them here as non-bias because I'm already well acquainted with the last few acts and subsequently way too excited to review this gig. But having raved about these bands to them so much - including headliner Sam Brockington - it is now pivotal to my opinion that it's as good as I say.

We arrive to catch the end of Katie Sky's set. Immediately I like her hair. It's blue and she charmingly wrinkles her nose up during soulful phrases. It's clean pop: think early Taylor Swift, with a Kate Nash style of vocal delivery. I later Google her releases to realise she has large followings in countries such as Singapore.

Wasuermono, up next, is the epitome of cool. Backing the lead guitarist and singer's alt-J style are a drummer and keyboard player who add swooping vocal harmonies. It is mesmerising and atmospheric, and we're all impressed.

Phoenix Club once had the Bristol Freshers version of me mascot a night out covered in their band stickers, but it's been a couple of years since I saw them live. Their new sound is a bit like The 1975 and they fill the stage with lively energy. I love it, and so does Miss Musical, but her opinion is as obsolete as mine for similar reasons. So in bias-avoiding panic, I turn to use the rest of my M-gauge. Are they as engaged? I find Miss Masters and Miss Maths to be going absolutely wild for it. They're at the barriers, enchanted by lead singer Danny's dance moves and dep-bassist Dan's super swishy-swish hair. They're swinging their hips and later will personally gush to the band how great they are.

I proudly display a signed poster of indie band Fossette above my bed. We've lost count, but I've been to more gigs of theirs than any other band. One time as I headed home, Smudge, the lead singer, called out to me: "Thanks for always coming [...] you're a good friend." I return to the boys to declare: "I come because I really enjoy the music. If I were just going to gigs because my friends played I could be at three other events right now!" I wanted them to realise, they could be relied upon to create an incredible sound. This set is just as fierce as usual, and it's enjoyable to see them filling a big stage.

Top of the bill, Sam Brockington is my choice of backing track to many-a casual journey. I first properly saw him live at Glastonbury 2016, and I've seemingly not recovered from my mind being blown. Often, I read of comparisons to George Ezra, but I disagree. Sure, they both play guitar, with deep vocal texture, but while George writes love letters to the land, I'm convinced Sam is an actual merman. Songs like "Manta Ray" from his last EP, sing such strong sense of sea life, you'd think you were having a little swim.

On this stage, he plays the first two songs alone, and the trap is set for the rest of the band to enter the stage and blow my mind again, especially the backing singers, whose voices blend with the silk of a fresh clotted cream. Sam Brockington really gets the crowd chanting and dancing with "Follow". During this song, Sam's mouth expands so much for the large chorus that I consider whether merpeople might communicate via echo-location. From the barrier, I briefly scan the sea of crowd loving the whole thing just as much, and I'm smugly proud of my friend. I have to treat Mer-Sam and my friend Sam as two people, if I didn't it would be weird because one is a songwriting genius I really fan over. The audience chants to receive a glorious encore and then the gig is really over.

The M-gauge are all gobsmacked, with massive cheesy grins, and I soak up the glory of taking them cross-country to this incredible gig.

BEAT IT is the Bristol 02's annual charity event, in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust and Penny Brohn UK.  The £3,500raised from ticket sales, bar profits, and collections will be donated to the two organisations. The event is unique in that all full-time employees at O2 Academy Bristol, casual staff and bands come together, helping to raise funds and help the fight against cancer.


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