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SPRINTS, The White Hotel. 6th April 2024

Back in The White Hotel once more and it’s another noisy one. SPRINTS are a bit more tuneful than my last visit though. Unleashing a set of grunge laced indie punk, hold on to your ears. There’s a reason they don’t use lowercase, live they’re bloody loud and lethal. With an album and a couple of EPs, I was expecting a shortish set, but no, you get some bang for your buck with SPRINTS. I don’t think they miss a song off Letter to Self and we get most of the A Modern Job EP too. To say it’s a bit wet outside is an understatement and there’s a distinct air of warm damp in this concrete bumper. It seems to add to the rawness of the venue though and the atmosphere. It’s not as rammed as I’ve seen it here before, but it is cozy and they get a warm welcome as they take the stage and get started with ‘Ticking’. This is a great set starter. It’s long teasing intro giving way to a spiky melody. They sound even better on ‘Heavy’, a bit chaotic and unpolished but in the best possible way. After answering Art Brut with ‘I’m in a Band’, the crowd calling back, they bring out ‘Adore Adore Adore’. They’re right to be confident, “You alright Manchester? This is the last time we’ll play a venue this small”. Cocky perhaps but with songs like this I suspect they’re not wrong. That is until we get into some football banter and we’re told “all blues can get the fuck out of here”. So I guess this will be my one and only time in a room with them. I don’t leave though. It’s chucking it down outside and I’ve only just dried off. ‘Cathedral’ ups the pace and reminds me of Poppies with its repeated question “is everybody ‘appy?”. The similarity ends there though, I love Poppies, but this is pure breakneck punk with guitars chugging along trying to keep up with drums. It lights the touch paper, fittingly getting the crowd to join in on ‘Delia Smith’. It’s brilliant and turns the room into even more of a sweat pit. It’s does cool off a bit for ‘Shaking Their Hands’. They don’t exactly do ballads, but it’s more complentative and hangs together with a lovely bassline that meanders and maraudes in all the right place. ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ is the perfect midset anchor. Starting slow and subtle before Karla’s vocal tears through the room. “We’ve not seen much moshing or crowd surfing” she notices. I’ve never seen that in here. I think people are wary with so much concrete around us. ‘Can’t Get Enough Of It’ would be great to surf too though. It’s not too fast, but it sounds massive and gets my pulse racing. It’s my set highlight, one of my favourites on the record, but live it’s even better. ‘Up and Comer’ comes a very close second though. I’m clearly out voted though as a pit kicks off and sucks me in. The pit pace changes for ‘Letter to Self’, that infectious grunge riff inducing collective pogoing that makes it look like a load of 40 year olds on a bouncy castle, before it’s lamenting coda chills everyone out. Honestly I wasn’t expecting this tonight, but their set is a brilliant mix of power and pop, ‘How Does the Story Go?’ sees Karla in the crowd bouncing along with wild abandon and we give it up for Sharon who offers her fur coat for a cover of Le Tigre’s ‘Deceptacon’, which I have to say is bloody marvellous. I’m a skeptic of covers, but if you nail it, it can be brilliant and they do and it is. Come ‘A Wreck (A Mess)’ I’m utterly done in and I think wetter than when I arrived. I desperately need some fresh air, but first there’s the hit. ‘Literary Mind’ goes mental and the pit kicks off again and I’m made to eat my words as one bloke miraculously does manage to crowd surf! They bring a set not much short of 90 mins to a close with ‘Little Fox’. Striped back beat poet menace giving way to sultry power punk, glam stomp and raucous riffs as Karla reappears dressed as a priest to hand out ironic communion. I’m not saying I wasn’t expecting to be blown away but fucking hell what a gig!


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