sun 05/12/2021

Sports Team, SWG3, Glasgow review - entertaining, but not always original | reviews, news & interviews

Sports Team, SWG3, Glasgow review - entertaining, but not always original

Sports Team, SWG3, Glasgow review - entertaining, but not always original

The six-piece were at their best when their songs were as frantic as possible

Sports Team, managing to stand still for once

It may go against rock n’ roll cliché, but occasionally there is merit to good time keeping for a band. Lucia and the Best Boys saw their support slot in their home town of Glasgow reach an ignominious ending when they were cut off a song early, vocalist Lucia Fairfull’s chat having seen the glam synth pop group go over their allocated slot.

It was an announcement greeted with some derision from those gathered there, but seemed a fitting climax to a rather stop-start showcase. Although Fairfull has a strong voice, their dancefloor friendly tunes only rarely provided a suitably catchy backing. 

The prospect of Sports Team’s arrival soon after quashed any lingering frustrations for the youthful audience clustered down the front. This was an audience where folk were perched on pals shoulders even before the sextet ambled onstage to the tune of "Let Me Entertain You", and the fist-punching, microphone stand wielding encouragement of singer Alex Rice was scarcely needed to start the moshing. That set the trend for the ensuing hour, a zippy set that paused for breath only occasionally,

At times, it felt like the six-piece were keen to deliver a fast and furious road trip throughout indie history, from the jittery call and response cry of opener "Here It Comes Again" to "Fishing" mashing up Pulp and power-pop, whilw a dash of chart-friendly Britpop arrived on the woo-woos of "M5". When they dropped in a brief snippet of the Wannadies "You and Me Song" it felt like it could have been lifted from the group’s own repertoire.

However the group have enough flair to make those influences hang together, particularly when they add American alt rock to the mixture. "Happy (God’s Own Country)" crashed along with a Parquet Courts esque rambunctiousness and Rice ranting away vocally, while the character vignette of "The Races" flowed along. There was also the glowering presence of Ben Mack, the band’s glasses wearing, entertainingly intense keyboardist who hardly moved a muscle all night, like a child’s toy with the batteries removed.

The rest of the group moved around with considerably more relish, from Rice managing to finally break his microphone stand to guitarist Rob Knaggs scaling the drum kit. It was the rhythm section of bassist Oli Dewdney and drummer Al Greenwood that were the most propulsive though, as the group’s songs were at their best when their playing was emphasised, including the aggressive holler of "Here’s The Thing" that kick-started the encore and the groove underneath the show closing "Stanton".

Yet the gig did lag noticeably at times, particularly on a dreary double-header of "Long Hot Summer" and "Winter Nets". Those two songs suggested the band’s material is weaker when the pace dips below frantic. Given they only have one album, it’s perhaps unsurprising that some formulaic tunes crept in, where it felt a little too much like ticking off the boxes of past indie acts. It meant it was hard to avoid a repetitive feeling creeping in underneath the surface as the night went on, and the energy of both band and crowd could not disguise that.

Still, it is unlikely that the teenagers making up a fair chunk of the crowd would care about that, as this is their band, for this moment. Rice appealed to those there to start their own bands, and asked for those there to consider themselves part of a community, sweet gestures from a group with their hearts in the right place, even if not all their songs can match it just yet.

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