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  • Writer's pictureBOOT - - - MUSIC

Sugarstone tease what's in store for their headline show with support slot @ The Castle Hotel

Extravagant Synth-Punk quartet Sugarstone are quickly becoming one of the most bold and exciting acts in the North-West live scene. Following support slots to Kashmere and one of our favourite artists of the year, Kid Kapichi, they had one more stop along the road before their headline show at the Eagle Inn, Salford, on December 18th. This stop was at one of Manchester's fastest growing intimate venues, The Castle Hotel, supporting Sheffield Rock outfit (and our recent interviewees) Blackwaters following the release of their debut album. I headed down for the early set time of 7:30 to see what has made Sugarstone such a saught after support act and what we can expect from their upcoming headline show.

All photos by Jamie Mountain

The night was somewhat unusual for 2021 as it had 4 acts on the line up and this meant that Sugarstone were heading on stage at 7:30. We all know it can be a hard task being the first band on and trying to ignite a quiet room and transform it into a bustling venue. You are starting from scratch and have to create all of the room's energy yourself, preparing the crowd for what is to come, loosening them up and making them feel comfortable to start moving to the music. However, they didn't seem phased whatsoever by the task. They strolled on stage in their eclectic dress that makes their varied New Romantic, Punk and Industrial influences clear for all to see with equal doses of smart shirts, eyeliner and mullets on offer. The four then leapt into a high-octane set that gave the audience little room to breathe! With a constant growling bass that flooded the room and an instrumental blend of live guitars and drums mixed with pre-recorded electronic supplements their sound was dense and unrelenting. It was the perfect way to inject some fire into a room that began to fill quickly.

The early highlight was the performance of their upcoming single 'Pink Duct Tape' which is out on December 17th (Pre-save now). The sadistic lyrical storyline and thumping drum rhythm built a dark tension early on with slightly gothic undertones. Yet, it was the finale of the track that really demonstrated the band's live prowess. The two vocals of Joseph O’Haire and George Miller combined with grit as well as harmony, gradually building the intensity of the title line "Pink duct tape feral sex" and ending the track in angsty climax. 'Angel Boy' showcased their more electronic, danceable quality. The lighter retro synths and bright vocal harmonies got hips swaying around the room. However, my personal highlight of the night was without doubt the penultimate number 'Happiness Is Hard To Find'. This track saw the band combine the danceworthy elements of 'Angel Boy' with the punchy darkness of 'Pink Duct Tape'. Joe's vocals darted from note to note and Ben (drums) thrashed around the kit creating a high-energy flurry that allowed George (guitar) and Brandon (bass) to throw themselves into the crowd and engage in the first moshing of the night against a more than suitable sonic backdrop.

At the end of their set the four lads had achieved everything a support band should do and more. They had injected an infectious enthusiasm into the crowd and had got people so ready for the main act that Blackwaters could have easily stepped on stage right at that moment. The combination of a confident, somewhat performative on-stage presence and a unique concoction of retro influences remastered in a modern fusion and youthful intensity they are more than ready to take centre stage themselves and I, for one, will be there. There are only a handful of tickets left for their headline gig at Salford's Eagle Inn on the 18th so buy them now to avoid missing out!


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