Photographs by Janine Van Oostrom.
It was a rare evening, one where the “legendary” Velvet Underground opened up their doors to two very unusual things, that being an all ages sold out crowd. The Velvet which almost always is a 19+ venue rarely ever see’s a day where there aren’t tickets available at the door, but August 2nd was that day. The British alt rock band Nothing But Thieves would be playing with support from their two openers, Weathers and The Unlikely Candidates.
The temperature in the The Velvet rose higher and higher as the crowd packed closer and closer. There was sweat pouring off of nearly every person in the crowd before the first opener even took to the stage. Just past 9pm the first opener, Weathers, finally graced the hot and eager crowd with their presence. Although it was an hour wait that seemed to drag on into eternity it was obvious from the very first moment that the wait was worth it. There is a scale I have developed for opening bands usually ranging from “Please make it stop” to looking at your friend and mouthing “Hey they are actually pretty good”. Despite all of my well thought out scientific calculations on the study of openers, Weathers managed to break that scale. They had an infectious in your face energy and they owned the stage in a way I’ve never seen an opener do. Between killer guitar solos and dreary life of an American teen lyrics they captured the attention of every member of the crowd. Weathers are a storm waiting to wreak some havoc in the music industry with the perfect combination of catchy songs, a superb stage presence, and of course the boyish good looks that will capture the hearts of teenage girls everywhere. Take it from me when I say that they will soon become a name no one will be able to forget.
It was 10pm by the time The Unlikely Candidates started their set and the tightly packed room was really starting to heat up. Although they had a hard act to follow they did not disappoint as they delivered one of the most crowd engaging sets I have ever seen. The lead singer was not shy about getting in the faces (and sweating all over) the people in the first few rows. Throughout the set he would chose a new victim and he would stare them down as he sang. He even jumped right into the crowd and walked around singing several times. Despite the overwhelming in your face presence they were fascinating to watch. They also delivered a very guitar heavy alt-rock set that as far as openers go was enjoyable to listen to.
Throughout the venue everyone checked their phones as the time creeped closer and closer to 11pm and it finally dawned on people that this was going to be one late show. Finally it was time for Nothing But Thieves to start their set. Kicking it off with their grungy single ‘Itch’ and then leading into two more crowd favorites ‘Painkiller’ and ‘Hostage’. There’s something about guitar heavy rock that gets the blood pumping and Nothing But Thieves execute that sound perfectly. I also can’t help but be a sucker for a good ol’ drum/bass solo, I mean it’s the little things that make a set right? Also you can’t forget to mention that the frontman Conor Mason has one of the most impressive set of lungs I’ve come across in a long time. There wasn’t a single point in the entire set when he didn’t hit and hold every one of his notes. While their energy was just shy of the openers it is hard to look impressive trying to do the limbo when the bar is already so high. It is rare to see a relatively new band with only one album out have so many songs draw such a strong reaction from the crowd.Yet they pulled it off with their songs ‘Honey Whiskey’, ‘Wake Up Call’, ‘Trip Switch’, and of course ‘Ban All the Music’. Nothing But Thieves are already making a ripple in the world of alternative music and it is no surprise based on the way they project themselves in their live show. This humble group of British boys are on the cusp of making it big and it is only a matter of time until they do.