Featured image: Lauren Maccabee
Sports Team have always been a band whose music is designed to be played live and Friday’s set at Manchester Academy was a testament to that fact.
Kicking off the night in style were new post-punk group Fat Dog. One of the more unique openers I’ve ever seen, their set was exactly the warm up the crowd needed. With tunes reminiscent of Viagra Boys and Fat White Family, the bassist in nothing but his underwear and the group sharing a bottle of whisky between them – the room was all limbs and flying pints of beer within mere seconds of the first strike of a chord.
9pm arrived and out came Sports Team. Opening with all-round classic ‘Here it Comes Again’, lead singer Alex Rice is his usual self. Oozing charisma and full of energy, he flaunts about the stage in a pair of well-worn dungarees like he was born to do nothing else. Three songs into the set he remarks “I reckon it’s going to be a big night, don’t you?” and it’s a clear sign he knows his Mancunian audience all too well.
After flying through the first eight songs at a dizzying pace, the group unveiled a surprisingly well-put-together cover of The Bangles’ hit ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ with Rice reading the lyrics off of an audience member’s phone.
The second half of the set was where things picked right back up. Grinning from ear to ear, Rice split the audience in half to form a huge circle pit during ‘The Drop’ whilst rowdy crowd surfers were hauled over the barrier by stony-faced security guards throughout the duration of the song.
‘M5’ made for three minutes of carnage, a staple track in any Sports Team live set, it’s almost impossible to leave at the end of the night without at least one cut or bruise acting as a reminder of the total chaos that took place in those few hours.
After the classic ‘walk off, walk back on’ with encouraging screams of “one more song” from the audience, the group arrived back on stage to play not one but three more songs from their catalogue and the existing energy in the room hit an all-time high.
‘Kutcher’ saw the singer clamber up on top of one of the speakers to the right of the stage to sing the first half before leaping into centre stage and once again instructing the crowd to form a circle pit. Rounding the night off with ‘Stanton’, it’s the perfect ending to a glorious evening spent in the company of one of modern indie-rock music’s finest exports.