Saltwater Sun – Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton – 14th September 2018

Photo by Jamie MacMillan

Four top bands, three of them Brighton favourites, all for not much more than the price of a pint. That’s what dreams are made of round these parts, and Hidden Herd’s special show this weekend certainly lived up to that. As well as showcasing what the rising buzz of Saltwater Sun is all about, it is also the first sneak peak at a very exciting future for some of Brighton’s best acts.

First up, Lacuna Bloome. It is a typically slow-burning set, with the shackles only really being cast off for ‘I Am’ and ‘Fin’. There’s a fiery interplay between frontman Niall Logue and guitarist Sam Leaver throughout the whole set, with bassist Molly Walker acting as a super-chilled presence on bass. Between that trio and Noah Haines on drums, they have all the elements in place but still need that final nudge over the line stage-presence wise. That will come though, and another year touring and gigging like this will see them get there.

Following are Circe, fronted by the enigmatic Alexa. They are the real deal: a band that are capable of building worlds, with their ethereal sound gliding around the room in a stunning and electrifying fashion. At times reminiscent of a waking dream, the electro beats surge and fade while Alexa is a captivating presence, a real star in the making. These are exciting times, a chance to catch a band perfect their sound before they blow up massively.

Next up, Thyla, who command an audience easily the equal of the nominal headliners. More than familiar to Brighton regulars of course, but tonight is a revelation. They’ve always been good, but this is a million steps forward. Primarily playing new songs from their as-yet unreleased new EP (with some even newer than that), every one is a banger. Their sound and performance tonight is rawer than what the crowd is used to, bringing a wildness to them that bodes well. ’Fade’ in particular is exceptional, a rush of blood and intensity that promises a bold new dawn for Millie, Mitch, Dan and Danny that leaves the majority of the room simply saying “Wow”.

Facing the difficult task of living up to that, Saltwater Sun nail it by simply living up to their name. Their upbeat sound is a perfect wrap to the night, even chucking a cover of Nelly Furtado into a set that is resplendent in indie-pop goodness. With their scuzzy riffs bouncing off the vocals of the boiler-suited Jenn, it’s easy to see why there’s so much hype around the band; ‘The Wire’ in particular is the perfect example of their ability to turn modern day anger into something sunny and positive. The band bring what is close to the perfect evening to a fizzing finale, a real celebration of all strands of modern indie-pop, expertly brought together by the Hidden Herd gang.

Jamie MacMillan

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