The Umbrellas – Sunny Side Down – The Silk Cuts – Coventry

The Umbrellas – Sunny Side Down – The Silk Cuts – Just Dropped In Records – Coventry – 6th April 2024

A night of Indie Pop at the record shop with San Francisco’s The Umbrellas, Warwick’s Sunny Side Down and Exeter’s The Silk Cuts. All giving great performances on a grey Wednesday evening. Read what Fighting Boredom thought below.

The first thing The Silk Cuts drummer does is move a plant from behind the drum kit, he does, later on lose a stick by hitting the other one. They are a three piece from Exeter and play underground rock in the style that R.E.M and their peers made so well. They are tuneful and poppy. The first song has a strong sweet female vocal, the very poppy end of indie, think of the Go-Betweens skipping through Spring Rain and you’ll get the idea. The vocals have a yearning emotional feel. Then there’s a harder beat and the same sort of down beat poppy indie but the male sings now, high and strained sounding that matches the slightly harder edge that the song develops.

The guitarist looks cool and like an indie pop star should, look at the pictures, you’ll know what I mean. The bassist looks poised, intense and beautiful, again, just as an indie pop star should and the drummer, he’s very enthusiastic.. They laugh at each other, grin as things go well and act like old friends up onstage enjoying themselves.

They go into a bright, forward moving groove with a classic sound. The harmonies are lovely and prove that the bassist’s voice is, in my honest opinion, the better of the two. It’s a sad and lonely song and is the point where the drummer drops a stick and manages to keep the beat while groping around to find it. Both the other band members are grinning by the time he retrieves it. He puts the sticks in the plant pot next to him so he can’t lose one again. 

They play a harder song, then a jangly song, then another slow song, they lose their way a little but then it all slots back into place and the feel is back. The harmonies work and the tunes take me to the left of centre indie pop that I have always had a soft spot for, a great set.

Sunny Side Down have been sitting at the front watching the Silk Cuts raptly, they come onstage and they are so very young, but I am an old fart so lots of people look young to me. This lot are from Warwick and honestly, aren’t really my thing. Lots of the crowd are getting into them though, the bassist and drummer are obviously a team and merge together without any effort. The guitarist is concentrating hard and either really nervous or really cool, I’m not sure which. The singer is very earnest and she says and sings like she really means it.

It’s emotional and hard with the music to match. The music is based around the vocal, emotions and sad then angry and shouting, it goes disappointed and discordant like the best alt-rock is then slides back into the tunes. ‘I wrote this when I was angry!’ spits out the singer and the sound is heavier and stronger as she hardens her words and moves off the stage into the audience. 

There are jingly jangly sounding tunes, low quiet strumming and sad songs. This is music for the young and hopeful. The singer is sat on the edge of the stage as the guitar and bass gently strum. They play on and have a laugh as they play the last song, the guitarist hangin onto the note to start it. As I said a set for the young and the others here, lots of clapping and smiling around me.

The Umbrellas are in a different class to the supports, the drums start, fast and solid they go straight into harmonies and it’s perfect indie pop. The bassist in the middle of the stage has the greatest fringe in the world. They tell us they are from San Francisco and that they haven’t been here before. They play with an indie feel but with an alternative rock edge, it’s very cool. The female vocal makes the music lean back and then come in again, the rhythm section rock solid as the guitars groove together over it all. Then the vocal switches to male and deeper and the drums turn faster, almost hardcore punk speed, the rest of the instruments get faster too but the vocals harmonise and match the noise, it’s fast and strong indie like it should be. They say that the song was inspired by a Coventry band… the Primitives. There’s a cheer and they play a more twee sounding tune, it’s slower and poopier with the same gorgeous harmonies. They switch into a song that feeds from the brilliant Shop Assistants with the drumming and bass line, fast and low down. The guitars and female vocals just add to it, an ace song.

They go into a tune that sounds like lying in the sunshine with friends, laughing and drinking. It feels like finding your place and staying with it within reach. It feels like the song was written to bring people together and it looks like it’s working on the evidence of this evening. The shows promotor is standing in front of me singing along at the top of his voice, grinning madly and punching the air. This has that effect on people.

The music slows down and it’s a torch song with a twee sounding indie vocal that works so perfectly. It speeds up then slows again, the vocals flow back and forth across the stage. There are messy guitars that slam into a a fast strum with an ace female vocal. They start another song mellow and then strips the gears to go fast and loud.

The song they say is from their first EP is more fast indie with a good feel, which is what they do, it feels good. There are sad songs but the overall feel of the music is of hope and sunshine. When it jangles people sway and smile, when it rages they move and dance in their spaces. It finishes with hard music and sad female vocals, but I don’t feel sad. I feel like I am in my place. With my people.

The Umbrellas

Sunny Side Down

The Silk Cuts

The Umbrellas are on Bandcamp, Instagram and X as @theumbrellassf.

Sunny Side Down are on Instagram and have a Bandcamp page.

The Silk Cuts are on Bandcamp and Instagram.

All pictures by Martin Ward, all words by Adrian Bloxham.

Adrian Bloxham

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