Singer-songwriter Fiona Lee starts with a series of songs filled with heartfelt lyrics, a soft sound and truly captivating singing voice. Her set was raw, vulnerable and it resonated with those fortunate enough to have arrived early enough to witness her grace the stage at this early career milestone. Her songs were gentle, delivered only by her and her acoustic guitar, but they carried an emotional intensity. It felt as though she were alone with her diary, and that we were peeking into her life. She is clearly a gifted songwriter.
Second up is Swedish rockers Girl Scout – who are touring the UK for the first time. They offer a distinct change of pace from Fiona Lee’s gentle approach. The self-proclaimed “bubble grunge Casanovas” are making a name for themselves in the UK scene. Tonight, it is clear to see why. They unleash blistering indie pop which quickly has the crowd grooving. They tear through upbeat numbers with “run me over” being particularly well received.
Lead vocalist Emma Jansson has expert crowd interactions between songs and knows how to work a room. As the crowd are increasingly bought into Girl Scout they cover songs about divorce and being a bit weird… both of which are rather euphoric. Throughout the set, guitarist Viktor Spasor unleashes quite frankly absurd guitar solos – each one more epic than the last. The aesthetic and sound of the band vs those shredding moments almost shouldn’t work. But they do, and Girl Scout are so much better for it. This band have several big tunes, personality for days, and so much energy on stage. The sound mix didn’t do Viktor’s solo’s justice, but I have a feeling I’ll be hearing them again very soon.
Onto the headliners – Coach Party. They have had quite the year… supporting Queens of the Stone Age, performing Glasto for the first time and releasing their debut album “Killjoy”. To top it all off, they are about to perform at The Caves. They take their audience on quite the journey, too. In and out of indie rock chaos and at times sandwiched by dream pop, the songs may change in tempo, but the pace of the night does not. Vocalist Jess Eastwood barely stops for a breath.
Indie anthem “What’s The Point In Life” could be misconstrued for an apathetic moan about the modern world, rather than the melodic, hook-filled call to seize the day it really is. It’s a crowd favourite, and at two songs into the set the audience are in full swing. People bouncing about with smiles on their faces singing “we’re all gonna die” is a sight to behold. It could only be a Coach Party gig.
Every song is received well by the crowd who clearly are fans of the Isle of Wight rockers. Their album is relatively young but every lyric is sang back to the band with enthusiasm. Notable mentions in the set include “All I Want To Do Is Hate” and “Shit TV”. These are songs which will be spun on vinyl and sung at indie club nights for years to come. Aside from the impressive, aggressive vocals from Jess, the band is on fine form. Guitarists Guy Page and Steph Norris contribute massively to their wall of sound, with Steph especially providing energy on stage for all to see. She can’t help herself but get involved with the crowd in between songs. You love to see it.
Coach Party’s sound is a luxury mix of sweetness in the vocals and shattering indie rock. As they work their way through their album, peppering tracks from previous Eps like “Breakdown”, they recite stories of their travels and introduce their skeleton friend Jeff to the audience. We were hoping for a crowd surf from the big man, but he wasn’t feeling up to it. As the show concludes, Evelina Arvidsson Eklind from Girl Scout joins them on set to close out the show with “F.L.A.G” and “Parasite”. The high-octane end to the night finished with a wall of noise. Coach party proved why they are building a reputation as a great live band.