Sports Team are the most brilliantly British band around at the moment. With songs celebrating everything from cricket to motorways, their brand of flamboyant, outlandish indie finds romance in the seemingly mundane at every opportunity. And nothing is more quintessentially British than a trip to the seaside in the rain.
Beginning last year in conjunction with their new single ‘Margate’, Sports Team have started hosting an annual coach trip down to the hippest seaside town in the country. Returning for a second year, the day out epitomises everything about the band: community, chaos and accentuating the slightly shit aspects of Britishness. Meeting at London’s Liverpool Street station to hop on the suitably ramshackle old school bus, and with a dismal weather forecast ahead, NME jumped aboard.
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In a remarkably short period of time, Sports Team have risen to become one of the most prominent and exciting bands in UK’s indie scene. They sold out out London’s Scala and the even larger Electric Ballroom with just one EP to their name. They’re also firm believers that such a scene still can be strong and vibrant, and that the golden days of indie in Britain are far from gone.
Their shows prioritise fun, theatre and absurdity – standing pretty firmly apart from the recent trend of barked vocals and harsh instrumentation – and the whole of today is largely the same. As the bus wearily pulls out of London, drummer Al Greenwood throws cans to fans in every corner as the vehicle becomes a smoky, beery mess. Custom-made t-shirts are also handed out, turning the trip into the most indie stag do of all time.
After a beach barbecue that largely manages to dodge the surrounding showers, the rabble – which includes tonight’s support acts, musical friends and a host of fans, many of which make up the Sports Team Community WhatsApp group – head along the seafront to Elsewhere, one of the town’s key venues.
What ensues is a showcase of the kind of heart-thumping, romantic indie that Sports Team champion and are becoming masters of. Glasgow’s Walt Disco kick things off, channelling the shiny synths of the ‘80s and possessing a frontman in James Potter that could rival Sports Team’s Alex Rice for flamboyance. The Rhythm Method are up next, a kind of Chas & Dave for millennials who manage to drop covers of both ‘Angels’ and ‘Old Town Road’ into a set that teams with outlandish lyrics (“she likes our Commons touch but she’s destined for the Lord’s / be my Cherie Blair, I’ll be your Cherie Amour”) and catchy synth-led bops. Once again, fun is pushed to the forefront.
Returning indie heroes Swim Deep then reassert their intentions after years away on the day their comeback single ‘Sail Away, Say Goodbye’ is released, before Sports Team show just why they’re the leaders of this young new indie pack. Singing of “burning British neck(s) on an August evening” on new song ‘Here It Comes Again’ and debuting another banger-in-waiting with the raucous ‘Fishing’. The band’s intentions are very clear here tonight: their trajectory towards the upper echelons of the indie leagues is set to continue at apace, and they’re collecting converts everywhere they go.
Said disciples back on a slightly sadder, definitely messier return trip to the capital after a highlight of this rainy British summer.