I always put the headline act in the title of these gig reviews, but White Novels were very much joint with Sarpa Salpa as the main events for me. What a special night it was…
Having interviewed both bands previously, this gig in the depths of Glasgow’s dingy-but-charming Broadcast was logical to attend — and it boxed off another local venue I’d not been to before. In fact, it was a night of firsts all round; it was Sarpa’s first Scottish gig, and White Novels’ first hometown show. And, as the latter are also something of a current outfit to watch — especially following the release of new single ‘California’ — this was my opportunity to see White Novels before their successes inevitably persist.
There’s no sign of any momentum slowing from any of the three bands that were on the billing. Kardo were young and dynamic, which came through in each of their feisty indie-rock rippers. Each riff and solo was pacy and fiery, and they’re primed for the festival circuit. Their tunes nicely set the tempo for what came next, too.
White Novels, as a five-piece, was birthed during lockdown, so gigging is still a fresh concept for the band. Having only played Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s before, frontman, Jack Bestow, mentioned to me that he was a tad nervous about going on at Broadcast. But he needn’t have been — their set was epic, from its acoustic-style start to its more raucous, crowd-pleasing finish. White Novels also had an immense support system rooting for them, including Jack’s Mum, Janice.
The venue was packed and everyone’s lungs were belting out the words to ‘On the Bottle’ and the synth-led ‘Over Again’. And, despite its release being mere days ago, ‘California’ — which they closed their set with — was anthemic and utterly well received.
At that point, there was such a buzz in the basement venue. I’d spent some time in the small dressing room area with Salpa as well, Meg regaling me with how good their pre-show feed was at Pizza Punks. We also chatted with fellow bandmates, Marcus, George and Charlie, their videographer Dan and tour manager Alex, about everything from their lack of time to go sightseeing in Glasgow to the fear of the room not being very full (though that certainly wasn’t the case).
They’ve recently ticked off a festival slot alongside the likes of McFly, played in Blackpool and have at least two new tracks up their sleeve (which they rolled out during their set). They’re all such fun and welcoming people in Sarpa, and they’re cruising swiftly towards major things.
There’s no doubt about it, Sarpa Salpa were also very commanding and engaged superbly with the audience. That, of course, included Meg’s “freestyle comedy” segment during Marcus’ technical pedal issues…
Guitar mishaps (and I say that loosely, because it didn’t detract from the atmosphere at all) aside, Sarpa’s fusion of indie and funky electronics is tantalising as standard, but even better when supercharged through ear-bursting amps. Each guitar lick, bass note and thud of drums is complemented by Marcus’ on-point pitch and deliriously harmonious vocals. While ‘Stick to What You Know’ and ‘Say Something’ happen to be the two killers for me, ‘Forwards Backwards’ was such a ripper. ‘Another Life’ and ‘As Good as It Gets’ had hips shaking and heads bopping in equal measure, too. Just sensational.
There was a tangible sense in the air that those of us in the room were in the presence of sheer talent. The three bands that conquered boiling-hot Broadcast are on the precipice of something staggering.