“I reckon it’s gonna be a big night, don’t you” asks a sweaty, dungaree’d Alex Rice three songs into Sports Team’s rousing headline set at Manchester Academy.
How right he is. A little over a month since the release of the band’s sophomore LP, Gulp!, Sports Team are a band who are exponentially growing in size, sound and quality.
Before Sports Team bring the noise, Manchester Academy is treated to the sleaze-funk-punk stylings of new London band, Fat Dog; who take the roof off of the room before Sports Team have the chance. Sludgy, funky, punk reminiscent of Warmduscher and Viagra Boys sees the crowd tear into circle-pits within minutes. Fat Dog are on the up and up, watch this space.
The headliners take to the stage at 9am sharp, beginning with their traditional opener ‘Here It Comes Again’. Sports Team are on fine form, reeling off one high-energy offering after another, from early singles to brand new Gulp! cuts, they are tight and Rice sounds superb. Songs from Gulp! slot into the setlist seamlessly, maintaining the chaotic energy that Sports Team exudes whilst also showcasing a more honed sound. Gulp! is a great offering from the band, and despite the record only being out for a month, the gleeful Mancunian crowd bellows every word of the new tunes right back at Rice.
The frontman is his usual self on stage, hurling himself around the other band members, onto the barrier and dancing awkwardly, throwing his limbs around like a sweaty Jarvis Cocker. Mid set, Sports Team unveil a surprisingly polished-sounding cover of The Bangles’ ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’, where Rice reads the lyrics to the cut from an audience member’s phone. Sports Team have absolutely no right to cover a track like that so well and it speaks volumes to their collective talent as musicians.
‘The Drop’ is a real highlight of the night, one of the strongest cuts on Gulp! sounds absolutely fabulous live and sees the crowd convulse in rhapsodies of circle pits – Rice acts as a chaotic conductor, parting the crowd and directing mosh pits with absolute glee. The best part of a Sports Team show is how evident it is that the band are enjoying this just as much as everyone in the room.
Friday night with Sports Team closes out in fantastic style, ‘M5’, ‘Here’s The Thing’, ‘Kutcher’ and ‘Stanton’ all fan favourites. Each cut is lapped up, with the tumultuous crowd demanding ever more. An all-round fantastic showing from Sports Team this evening, who are sure to be playing even bigger rooms very soon.
photo credit: Lauren Maccabee