It’s been a hard year for music fans globally with Covid-19 cutting off gigs, tours signings and harming artists and touring crews alike. Despite all this, it all felt like we were once again on the brink of returning to a new normal in Preston’s The Ferret last Saturday with Manchester based Sugarstone and SLAP RASH returning to the stage in front of a live audience once again. The 22nd of May saw both emerging powerhouses deliver an electric show, without even an indication of the pause both bands have faced since last performing live. Playing both a matinee and evening show, both bands delighted not one but two sets of fans. Even though we were sat at alternating intervals, well away from each other, the crowd felt universally connected. Both bands are no strangers to mosh pits, dancefloors and anything but socially distancing and somehow still the set didn’t feel lacking without them. It would be a lie to say I didn’t want to dance the entire way through the set but I still wasn’t disappointed at any point. Even still SLAP RASH and Sugarstone went above and beyond delivering more than I could hope for from a socially distanced gig.
Both bands don’t benefit from genres suited to sitting jazz lounge like crowds but made up for it with stage presence, eclectic tracks and enough personality to write a feature film on. Recently signed to disobedient records and fresh off the release of new track “Cimmerian” brother-sister punk duo SLAP RASH pulled no punches in opening a fast paced, pounding set. With previous supporting slots for artists like John the pair have ample experience in warming up a crowd at yet managed so much more in the space of less than an hour. Having waited over a year to see live drums once again I admit the eclectic energy of drummer and lead vocalists Amelia’s beating drum patterns brought me to tears. Somehow managing to tighten up even further over lockdown the vocalists command rhythm and syncs perfectly with her brother whose pedal amplified bass tones provoke Prodigy esq punk electronica vibes. I admit I never have a bad thing to say about SLAP RASH but they further confirmed these feelings on Saturday. Headlining or supporting you have to see this band post lockdown whether a punk fan or not.
Sugarstone are no strangers to delivering an excellent headline show, the four piece have played numerous venues across Manchester and beyond. They are on the precipice of moving from Manchester’s underground to the verge of the UK mainstream following in the footsteps of artists like Phoebe Green. They deserve every ounce of success they’ve earnt and yet crave more, working hard through the pandemic – delivering livestreamed gigs, new tracks in the form of “Angel Boy” and enjoying radio coverage on BBC introducing and a massive feature on Radio X! Sugarstone have shown just what bands can due through the pandemic both on and off stage. The Ferret was no different, combing vocal talents various guitar riffs, raucous bass and textbook drumming the local lads looked as tight as ever. There is simply no need to worry about either of these bands getting rusty nor slowing down and for that I’m simply ecstatic. They delivered two hours of tune after tune, with witty quips and stage presence full of their individual flare Sugarstone of one of my first and most enthusiastic recommendations for anyone that asks “What is Manchester producing right now?”.
You can see SLAP RASH supporting DEAFDEAFDEAF at Jimmy’s in Liverpool on November 1st with tickets still available and Sugarstone playing with Kashmere at Bootleg social on the 12th of June. Make sure to keep an eye out for announcements from both bands soon. I’m sure they are more than eager to return to gigging as many places as possible as soon as possible and it’d be a crime to miss them!