Jordan Allen by Kate Waldock
Shimmer Sounds welcomed Jordan Allen on stage at 8:00. The crowd’s anticipation was palpable as we waited for the Manchester indie band to begin. When the group finally walked onto the small set up of Room 2, a few boys at the front went wild immediately. The lead guitarist Danny Quin’s mastery of the guitar is clear from the first note, but singer Jordan Allen’s air-kicks at every chorus quickly became the star of the show, and the electricity of the band members energised the crowd. A mosh began at the start of Helter Skelter and didn’t stop till the end. Their music is perfect for a festival: it has a strong beat, which the amazing bassist Kieran Loughran and drummer Nathan Howard provide, and a belting chorus in every song they play. The most memorable and unifying part of the set came at the end, as Jordan Allen introduces the song ‘R.O.S.I.E’. When he sang the words ‘Rosie, what have you done to me…’ he was barely audible as the entire crowd piped up to sing this banger. A fantastic end to an incredibly sweaty and euphoric set left everyone grinning and cheering the band as they left the stage.
Himilayas by Will Humphrey
I have been a fond admirer of Himilayas for a while, but this was my first time seeing this promising Cardiff crew do their thing. As the band are rising through the indie ranks, it is not surprising they are featuring on the Shimmer Sounds line-up, especially following their headline Saturday set at Cardiff’s Hoyfest. All I can say is, what a way to kick things off as Joseph Williams & Co delivered a set full to the brim with rock n’ roll.
The lead vocalist Joseph Williams embodies an Alex Turner-like figure as he oozes intensity with eerie glares and solid vocals. The set wouldn’t be complete with their debut single Thank God I’m Not You being performed. According to Williams, this is the foundation of their success, as he explains the song has reached eight millions streams on Spotify. The band’s new tune The Masquerade also gets a trial run on the ears of the attendees. The song is a cocktail of eerie bass, infectious guitar solos and seamless unity between all band members and their instruments. Joesph Williams rounds off the rock n’ roll set by climbing into the crowd and getting amongst the admiring gig goers whilst still playing his guitar.
Rainbow Maniac by Will Humphrey
After Himalayas’ set had finished, I headed upstairs to Room 2 to see one of my favourite bands Rainbow Maniac. The band have been rocking and rolling ever since they formed in their student days whilst studying at Bridgend College. Rainbow Maniac are an absolutely quality quartet and seamlessly complement each other to produce a psychedelic blues sound. The quartet is made up of frontman Connor Latcham, Gavin Jenkins (Drums & Vocals), Laura Brown (Bass) and Louis Jugessur (Guitar) all of whom embody a modest swagger. There is a loveable arrogance to Rainbow Maniac, exemplified by captivating frontman Connor Latcham who manages to pull off a controversial black roll neck with a Ron Burgundy-esque suit.
Latcham kicks things off with his Danelctro guitar with Going Out On My Own which features a bold psychedelic rhythm with hints of a blues bass line and gets the crowd grooving. The lyrics produce poetic imagery for the audience which evoke images of boozing, partying and all round good times with alcohol. Uma Thurman is next up in the energised short set with the rock and blues vibe continuing as Latcham and Co are both provoking and reacting to the budding energy in the intimate Room 2. The set only got stronger as Latcham presented Crack Rock n’ Roll to the gig goers as ‘one of the best songs by any band’. It’s safe to say he isn’t wrong. This track is an idiosyncratic mixture of 60/70’s R&B, a groovy disco backdrop and a chorus you can’t help but sing along to. Despite drinks flying, limbs flailing and the crowd bulging at the seams, Latcham keeps his composure by booging, strumming his guitar and rocking out.
The stand out song in the set is of course Kestrel Super, which sees the band spiral into a rigorous intensity. Each band member really come into their element. Latcham indulges in a vortex of Elvis-like posing and gyrating whilst keeping his unpretentious swagger in check. Jenkins adds to the mix by striking his drum kit with graceful precision and complements Latham’s vocals with solid backing vocals. Both guitarists, Brown and Jugessur provide their personal touches by luring the audience in with hallucinogenic rifts, leaving them craving for the song to continue into the night.
Anteros by Will Humphrey
Following London-based Anteros’ initial success at Cardiff’s Hoyfest with their captivating Sunday headline performance they are welcomed back by music lovers to the Welsh Capital. I hadn’t heard of this band prior to Shimmer Sounds but after listening to their tracks on Spotify, I made sure to see them perform in the flesh. Anteros radiate confidence with every track they perform. Laura Hayden, the lead vocalist symbolises this coolness as she struts her stuff across the stage whilst performing a faultless cover of Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walking. Hayden cranks things up a notch with Cherry Drop a speedy indie tune that gets heads bobbing, feet tapping and arms flying into the air. The set reaches its climax as Hayden climbs onto the barrier to address the crowd with her speech: “This song is for women cause I’m sick of being told how to look, what to wear. Normally I have girls up on stage but today I’m going to come down and dance with you!” The speech is met with roars of appreciation and admiration for Hayden and her message.
Fickle Friends by Izzy Boulton
The penultimate group performing on the main stage at Tramshed for Shimmer Sounds was Brighton band Fickle Friends. The group formed in 2013 and this performance was their last of 2018. It was a fitting celebration for a successful year for the band after they released their debut album You Are Someone Else on Polydor earlier in March this year. Frontwoman Natassja Shiner brought the energy to the stage, wearing a t-shirt with the Obamas’ Presidential family portrait on it, making their performance that bit better from the outset. It was clear to the audience that the band were enjoying the gig, making the most of their final set of the year- Shiner jumped into the crowd at one point to sing along with her adorning fans. Introducing song ‘Hard to be Myself’, she mentioned how it was a song close to her heart that discussed struggles with mental health. Her casual yet caring encouragement to talk to someone if you struggle with mental health, really conveyed how much she treasured her fans as more than sales figures. The crowd favourite ‘Swim’ – which has almost 20 million listens on Spotify – got everyone moving in the venue. They did a great job of warming up the crowd for Peace, some of the audience even said that they outperformed the headliner.
Peace by Izzy Boulton
Birmingham band Peace took to the stage as headliners. This year saw the release of their new album Kindness is the New Rock and Roll! back in May, followed by a 12-date tour across the UK. They inaugurated their set with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, a very topical choice with the biopic having just been released, and it began a frenzy of singing, beer being slung in the air and chanting for drummer Dominic ‘Boycie’. Having been just over a year since they last played to fans in Cardiff, Peace opened with 10-minute classic and much-loved anthem 1998 (Delicious). Despite the set being over an hour long, it was a shame to see some of their best songs missed out on the setlist as they played newer music – but then this is the reality of a bands development and growth from one year to the next. Ballad From Under Liquid Glass – the first single released from the new album – had a lot more fervour performed live. Nearing the end, frontman Harry Koisser even started taking requests from the crowd and performed a quick skit at The Police’s Roxanne and then went on to perform World Pleasure for the first time in what felt “like 15 years”. Peace drew Shimmer Sounds 2018 to a close, and what a day it was.