Granted, on 1st January 2021 in the UK, things looked bleak. Perhaps drearier than it had in previous years, due to the looming threat of another lockdown. It was uncertain as to how the year would unfold, but one thing was for sure: musicians wouldn’t get knocked down and stay down. An abundance of new material from artists globally was almost guaranteed.
At that point, though, it wasn’t apparent whether gigs and festivals would be back on the table. Glastonbury, in its purest, most ‘normal’ sense, wasn’t a goer and that was alarming for many. But what we’ve had access to main-stage-wise since July has been fantastic — at least, I reckon so.
The first gig I went to after restrictions were scrapped was For You The Moon at the naturally sweaty Leeds haunt, The Key Club. Recently, the band have actually spoken out about their splitting, which is a crying shame. They absolutely smashed it and entirely won over the crowd, and I had the ringing ears afterwards that I’d missed for so long. If any of you lads are reading this, regardless of the circumstances now, you still deserve the biggest thanks for the show you put on then.
Of course, interviewing three bands who produced epic records in 2021 was a highlight. You’ll better know them as Kid Kapichi, Strange Bones and Calva Louise. I secured those chats pretty early on in the year, but they’ve remained standout moments. I also saw all three live again. Bonus.
In terms of festivals, I was chuffed to be invited as press to cover Long Division Festival in Wakefield and the mighty Live at Leeds. I saw so many insanely talented acts, with an access-all-areas pass around my neck or VIP wristband proudly over my sleeve (I’m never cutting the latter off).
That nicely leads on to a quick nod to some of the best music to emerge this year. ‘Sticky’ from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes is short and sweet, as promised, but absolutely immense. It’s punk hit after punk hit, and there’s not a note or riff I could complain about.
Speaking of bangers delivered by those I saw on the festival circuit in 2021, we’ve had some belters from Low Hummer, Lynks and deep tan as well. And I can use swim school and Spyres to help me segue into a nod to the Scottish music scene here. Both bands blew the roofs off their venues at Live at Leeds, so I’d urge — no, implore — you to catch them as soon as you can. They’re both enjoying well-deserved success and minutes in the limelight, and they’re testament to how exciting and potential-filled music is in Scotland at present. To that end, we’ve seen huge triumphs this year from Biffy Clyro and chart-toppers, The Snuts, too.
But on a smaller, yet growing scale, there have been countless incredible tunes from under-the-radar artists from that neck of the woods. So, it would be remiss of me not to mention one such band here. You know what’s coming. If Glasgow’s Oh Romance hadn’t reached out in April about their debut single, ‘Are You Satisfied?’, well, I wouldn’t somehow now be their manager. If that’s not a ground-breaking, klaxon-sounding ‘best bit of 2021’, I don’t know what is…