“We’ve been doing a lot of festivals on huge stages the last couple of months – it’s good to go out of your comfort zone, back to the sweaty, intimate thing,” says Tom Ogden, fresh from being mobbed on a plane to play Bilbao BBK festival, glancing out of his tour bus window at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen where Blossoms are shortly to play a tiny competition-winners only Sounds Of Summer gig for NME, TOPMAN and Austin, Texas, the hottest ticket in town. It’s a few short steps for Manc but a giant leap back to 2015, before this styled-by-Jet five-piece – actually at the forefront of a new wave of guitar-driven electro-pop – were tipped for greatness in the BBC Sound Of 2016 poll and duly set about achieving it. “We’re doing two ‘intimate’ shows in Manchester to promote the album but together they’re a thousand tickets. They sold out in four minutes.”
Inside, a clutch of the globe’s finest rising stars are rousing 350 golden ticket holders to the hysterical heights of a Corbyn rally. Austin singer-songwriter Carson McHone provides lustrous acoustic country with the odd dash of Doherty: “I need your drugs!” she entreats, sweetly. Glasgow’s The Lapelles, despite looking like the Harry Potter cast, roar brilliantly through their debut London show like the Eagulls you’d trust with sharp implements, building sci-fi Strokes sounds, nocturnal mood rock and Blur hooks into gigantic surges of noise. If the Independence Day aliens did indie rock…
The stage fills with fishing hats, beards and bandanas; enter Blossoms’ mates The Vryll Society, a far more cheebsome prospect. They play sonic flower grooves, dope-haze psych sprawls and Verve-esque jams that grow in passion and impact like Jason Statham on Love Island. Then a hip-hop intro tape, strobes and slabs of dank electro-glam announce the arrival – and ethos – of Blossoms. They’re out to straddle genres like a Deezer-era alt-rock band should. ‘Across The Moor’ shamelessly boasts a rap beat and neo soul slink. Synthetic pop tunes like ‘Getaway’ worship at the same chart pop altar as Chvrches, and the uber-catchy ‘Charlemagne’ even comes on like Ogden’s been spying on a secret song-writing tryst between Lauren Mayberry and Kate Bush. This is Indie 2.2.
The classical scriptures creep in, of course. ‘Blown Rose’ pays homage to The Smiths, ‘My Favourite Room’ – “a sad one,” Ogden explains with coy confidence – to ‘Half A World Away’ and Echo & The Bunnymen’s ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’. You can sniff traces of Kasabian, The Kooks and Arctic Monkeys between the cracks. “It’s been a lovely Saturday evening,” Ogden declares as his band rev up the psych rock Oasis squall of ‘Blow’ ahead of ‘Deep Grass’’s elephantine blues finale. Lovely, and eye-opening.