Ridiculous. It’s the only way to describe the rise of Sports Team over the past 18 months, and for good reason. What started in earnest at Scala over a year ago – before pulling into the Electric Ballroom, Margate and festivals across Europe – now finds itself at the sort of venue many bands dream about headlining once their debut album is out. Instead tonight, that first full-length can be pre-ordered at the merch stand with some seeds (yes, seeds – Ed) which once planted, will bloom around the time the album comes out next year. If all goes to plan, it’ll be the same point one of the most exciting live bands in the country firmly grasps that status as “the next big thing”.
Everything Sports Team have done is infused with a knowing sideways glance at the silliness of Planet Pop. Underneath though, their ambition stands miles above that of their peers. As soon as they stride onto the Kentish Town stage to Robbie Williams, complete with accompanying pyros, the Sports Team party is in full flight.
Met with a rabid response, they fill The Forum – the likes of ‘Camel Crew’, ‘M5’ and ‘Here It Comes Again’ see limbs bouncing and drowned out singalongs, while swinging cuts like ‘Get Along’ and ‘Beverly Rose’ swagger their way to the front of the line in a set that never lets up.
While undeniably celebratory, that debut looms in the near distance – something frontman Alex Rice acknowledges on-stage after taking time out for a sincere moment of gratitude for how far they’ve come. New tracks debuted breathe with that joyful explosion of energy, but in fresh and exciting ways.
‘Feels Like Fun’ is a particular highlight, a slow-burning explosion that feels as much in debt to the grooves of LCD Soundsystem as it does Pavement or classic indie. With grandstand hits like ‘Kutcher’ (which tonight sees confetti burst into the air), ‘Margate’ and ‘The Races’ already in their back pocket, they’re a live prospect that continues to grow in confidence.
As Sports Team catch up to their lofty ambition and then some, it’s no longer a case of asking ‘can’ they do this, but ‘when?’ The most exciting guitar band in the country? Not ridiculous at all.
Words: Jamie Muir