2012 has already been a successful and promising year for local music in Stoke-on-Trent, with April being a great month. After their stomping hometown gig 24th March, All The Young released their debut album 2nd April, and Easter Weekends Hippy Haze Festival was a huge success for Richard Buxton and all inlovled. And now, before the year even hits the darling buds of May, could we find ourselves on the cusp of something special? For months now the hype surrounding Camp Stag has been building towards boiling point, and finally, tonight at Fat Cats Cafe Bar, they are unleashed to the public eye.
Supporting Camp Stag was local band The English, taking to the stage around eight pm in front of a modest crowd. Front man Will Abercrombie dons a fancy sailor hat for the gig, a rather stunning fashion accessory to say the least, and the boys open their set brilliantly with new track Less Is More. Stage presence is something the band perhaps need to work on as a unit, as the set seemed to lack energy and raw passion that you might expect from The English, and a stronger use of dynamics would severely heighten the feel of energy and intelligence which is clearly already in the songs, but perhaps hiding timidly at the moment.
There is a clear vibe within The English, a beast waiting to be unleashed; it’s just a matter of finding the right bait to coax the best lurking within. The bass reverb used on Will’s microphone gives added effect to the trippy and addictive sound of The English, and their cover of Be My Baby worked very well into the set. This song highlighted, however, the band need to work on backing vocals to give added depth to their set. Though The English produced an extremely tight set, the songs seemed to glide into one another a little too easily, with each song sounding not unlike the previous song.
Scottish band Holy Esque did their fan base no harm with this fresh set, putting in a well worked performance with tight drum beats and soft synth tunes, and a vocal range echoing that of WU LYF front man Ellery Roberts. Certainly a band to get into.
Universal Thrift Club must be given credit for tonight’s gig, as well as Sleep In Music, who more than live up to their claim of supporting and promoting up and coming musicians with talent that stand out from the crowd, and now, with both support bands doing their bit entertain the growing crowd, Fat Cats had filled up pretty much to its capacity as they waited for Camp Stag, the band that without even playing their first gig, already stand out from the crowd. The crowd itself was full of faces from the music scene; Andy Gower, Emilio Pinchi, Moral Panics, The Sport, Dead Format, Sworn To Oath, even half of All The Young had turned up to watch the four lads take the local music scene by the scruff of the neck. Opening with Matilda Please, a song already featured on WrongPops charity album, Camp Stag immediately tell Stoke-on-Trent they have arrived. And these guys mean business. Rich Dooley proves that music really is in the genes with his seamless, unique drum patterns, and Ade Harrison’s keyboard skills are already becoming a trademark sound for Camp Stag, with just the introduction of current single Sirens causing a stir in the crowd, as this eagerly anticipated band finally unleash the song everyone was waiting for. Dan Nixon produced an eerie, pulsating performance on guitar and vocals, with the crowd hanging on every word he said, whilst Chris Wilson brought great energy to the stage with his well thought out bass play.
This band have clearly put in the effort to make sure their live music was at a great standard before being given to the music fans of Stoke-on-Trent- fans which went home feeling the buzz and excitement of something new, something that’s about to happen. Amongst a plethora of talented acts in Stoke-on-Trent, it is Camp Stag who seem to have the talent and ability to take Stoke by the scruff of the neck, and take her from the hidden depths of the national music scene to quite possibly the forefront.