Off Bloom, Saltwater Sun and more put on a sizzling display at Etc. week three

Plus Outlya and Alex Tracey, too.

So, lets recap. It’s week three at The Old Blue Last, and Etc. is well and truly flowing through the pumps pouring out lagers to plenty of thirsty patrons across two floors. So far we’ve had storming sets, fresh new bands making their mark and enough new music to shake a – well – magazine at (let’s go with that). We’re not messing around, and week three can bloody well prove it. With more bands and more bonafide slammers, tonight feels more than any other a real glimpse into acts who in 12 months time, will be the talk of the town.

Opening up a four-band bill at 7:45 pm can be a tricky job, but Outlya make any fears seem like nonsense. As a three-piece, they’re smooth and stripped back tonight – chiming with tightly crafted pop weavers and bouncing off a crowd already devoted and glued to the front of the stage. Stepping out into the crowd for ‘The Greatest’, they manage to make The Old Blue feel more like a campfire get-together than the boozer it is; there’s a likeable charm to everything they do. With the sort of songs that you wouldn’t be surprised to hear ringing out across radio dials pretty soon, this feels like a tantalising taste of something ready to pop.

Arriving with a frenzy of slickly formed guitar-pop, Alex Tracey is bursting with enthusiasm. You can see it written across his face from start to finish, as he whips through a set of tight licks that bounce off the walls. Pulling poses straight out of an 80s rock handbook, there are rhythms aplenty with ‘Crazy’, while covering The Beatles and getting a scorching room of cider drinkers to sing along to ‘Come Together’ is definitely something to whack on the ‘ol CV. There’s ambition and confidence there, and it’ll take Alex Tracey far.

If you thought it couldn’t get any busier, than you’d be sorely mistaken – especially with Saltwater Sun knocking around. In a rapid set, they prove why they’re next to claim the new band crown, packed with swagger and a blistering mentality – it’s a band who know how big the stages are going to be in twelve months time. Shifting with variety (jumping from out and out indie jams to almost alt-rock croons), it never feels like a repeat formula with them – latest number ‘Hot Mess’ proving a particular standout. Saltwater Sun have nailed who they are as a band, and it shines through tonight as a live force to be reckoned with.

Catching Off Bloom in a setting like tonight feels like a treat. Giant pop hooks, soaring choruses and a stage presence that captivates no matter where they turn – this lot should be playing to thousands. Etc. gets a full look at a band ready for what’s next, with an arsenal of bangers already in their back pockets. ‘Rockefe11a’ pushes and chimes with knowing danger, ‘Shut Up And Let Me Walk’ flicks and rips with a rolling thunder and ‘Lover Like Me’ reaches out to the back of the room and pulls everyone closer.

It’s an unstoppable sound, a Major Lazer sound system that never relents – ‘Falcon Eye’ remains an undeniable heavyweight hit that, lead by the powerful tones of Mette Mortenson reaching out to devoted fans gathered at the front. By the time ‘Golden Dreams’ hits a new level, there’s a genuine concern that the bouncing crowd could actually go right through the floor – as Off Bloom light up an earthquake that needs to be felt in modern pop. A sizzling display, tonight was about throwing a party before things go truly stratospheric.

Words: Jamie Muir

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