Friday 2nd December saw St Thomas Church in Lancaster convert itself into a mesmerising indie rock cave, perfect for the bands that were about to take the stage where, on a Sunday, Lancastrians show their faith in god.
We have to give props to Scruff of the Neck for managing to put on such a safe, clean and friendly event where people of all ages and races were welcome. Some may lift an eyebrow at the idea of a gig in a church, but the place was clean from the start, not too noisy and the acoustics? Just perfect.
We arrived through the back door and as we walked through a small entrance, the church opened up. From its carpeted floor, to it’s wedding style chairs and wooden interior; it seemed like we’d walked into some sort of magical music box that would house us for the next three hours.
The undercard seemed promising from the start with Divide and Conker (Lancaster), Philip James Turner and The Crow Mandala (Morecambe) and Jekyll (Blackpool); all who brought their own style and vibe to get the crowd pumped, and pumped they did. From the off, an almost dangly leg mosh pit was beginning to form, where the youngest members of the audience congregated at the front and proceeded to ‘lose their shit’ at the music.
Opening up at around 8pm, Divide and Conker opened up the proceedings with their beautiful mix of funk and rap. Boasting some fantastic facial hair and a range of instruments, D&C were the perfect opening act. Vibes and a whole lot of singing and crowd participation, they really helped stamp Lancaster’s authority on the night. D&C are releasing their album at the very end of this year and we’re sure it is going to be great.
Matching bluegrass guitars, with country tones and indie rock choruses, second act Philip James Turner and The Crow Mandala provided entertainment for all ages of the audience. Another band of many numbers, they take stock of instruments such as the tambourine and trumpet to great effect, along with a harpsichord player with the vigour of a musician half his age.
Slow to start, their set began to grow on the audience, bluegrass guitar noodling being met with an outbreak of country dancing in the centre of the hall. One thing that is impressive is the vocal range of lead singer Philip James Turner, who continually hits impressive notes at the height of their songs. Ending their set with a rousing reinvention of Dolly Parton’s Jolene, Philip James Turner and The Crow Mandala put on what is an accomplished set within such a great night of music.
The third and final support act was Blackpool based alternative rock band Jekyll, who immediately fly into a short, yet memorable set. Their sound is heavy yet melodic, not too far flung from the likes of Muse and Nothing But Thieves. Jekyll’s set resonates well with the audience, the younger portion breaking out into a miniature most pit, complete with one member of the audience up on the shoulders of another.
Whilst St Thomas Church isn’t quite Reading Festival, the energy that the band possess on stage is evident, and is matched by the excitable front portion of the audience. Jekyll’s music encapsulates the purpose of up-and-coming alternative rock, reaching out to the younger music masses. It works to great effect and the crowd love it, Jekyll proving the perfect head-banging warm up for the main set of the night.
It was just after ten o’clock when Glass Caves took to the stage, hair and beer flowing; the crowd cheered as they prepared to take on their set. The frontman, Matt, took the mic and proceeded to ask the crowd how they were feeling. Many cheered; but we’re sure the answer was tipsy and just a touch hyped. Matt’s showmanship was fantastic all night, from cracking a joke or two, to keeping the audience informed about the band and even getting an audience member to twirl in a Glass Caves t-shirt; Miles Kane better watch out.
Their full set, of just under 60 minutes, was littered with some gems from Alive to Swim and had some really catchy bangers in between like Why Stay, Be Together and their latest single, Do You Have A Name?.
We were stood in the middle of the crowd, and there was an interesting split of people with us. Right at the front, we had the aforementioned dangly leg mosh pit and behind us we had the older mildly drunk crew, who could admittedly dance much better. In the middle, we had the swayers who were enjoying the music but probably didn’t feel quite comfortable enough to dance in a church.
The music itself was incredible; proving that there is always truth in music sounding better live than online. Matt’s vocals really shone through the whole set from the extended note holding on Alive to the sexiness and mystique on Do You Have A Name?. Be Together was also a particular highlight, the vocal harmonies in the chorus reverberating off the church walls, whilst the melodic riffs got the crowd dancing in unison. It is easy to see why their debut album Alive did so well when Glass Caves can so consistently deliver on stage.
The chemistry between the band also seemed to be innately synchronised. From Connor on guitar and Will on bass both being so into the gig that they missed a singing cue as they strummed seamlessly together, even at one point practically bumping instruments (because they can). Driven forward by the dance-worthy beats of Elliot Fletcher on drums and the vocal prowess of Matt Hallas, Glass Caves provided a fantastic set of tracks new and old, only enhanced by the holy surroundings.
The band played so well that there were several cheers for an encore from the enthralled audience, yet it seemed that after almost an hour of near-perfect Indie Rock, Glass Caves were all played out.
Check out the video for Do You Have A Name? below.
Credit: Glass Caves