Review by Sian Eardley
Photo by Simon Bamford
It was a ghost town for a Monday night in Hanley; twinkly lights yet no-one around. However, a good turn out (for a £10 gig mind) could be found in The Sugarmill, waiting for headliners: “Good Shoes”. It must also be said that the quality of support acts is definitely on the rise, as the penultimate act had attracted more viewers than the eventual audience for Good Shoes, and were an interesting mix of Dogs, old school Editors, and good old fashioned rock (not the drivel you’d hear on the radio which gets to much airplay). Also, and most interestingly, the night had a very much male dominated crowd – maybe because it was all testosterone on stage across all acts, but it also got me thinking -maybe Good Shoes are on a connecting par with the males, maybe they push their buttons, (?) as through their performance I was honestly stumped as to whether it was: good, bad, middle of the road, exciting or boring. I couldn’t put my finger on what they were.
It was a bit of a rough start (potentially due the sound guys bodging the levels), as the vocals fought the music, and it just looked and sounded dreadful. However, with a few alterations, it was pulled back and from a scratchy feedback of noise, and reached a more eloquent tone, as vocals “subtle…subtle…subtle” floated into the air, with a “Never Meant to Hurt You” comeback.
It’s a very confusing experience to see Good Shoes. Are they likeable, are they not? Are they loud, are they soft? It’s fair to say they’re like mini explosive outbursts of energy on stage, and they’re verging on punk rock with a pinch of Doherty, a dash of Jamie T, and a sprinkling of The Holloways. And just when you’ve got that figured in your head, “The Way My Heart Beats” - “ends so softly” melody, resembles that of a good old indie love song, and then to further mess with your head, massive drum pounds come in from nowhere to resemble The Distiller’s “Hall of Mirrors”.
They proudly stated they were a south London band, and it looked like it was a south London crowd they were expecting, instructing the crowd to: “Get involved”, “applause because we like being applauded” and it all came off a bit too big headed. Still, it made you think about them: “Do I not like the band but find myself drawn to the music?” This I kept trying to fathom, through their emotive thought processes which came off as Muse-esque intros, outros and interludes. At times, it did seem that they were too big for their own (Good) shoes, expecting
They get into your head by puzzlement, mixed with semi-fashionable sound (often sounding similar to Jake Penãte’s: “Are We Really?”), and on stage, main singer: Rhys Jones had a clear childlike anxiety and want for fame, which is only too visible in his stage act, up to the point of being vulgar. He’s clearly expecting to make it sooner or later, but then, thinking about what constitutes commercial success, it’s the charts (not that-that’s good either) and sales and downloads that drives you up there, and they’re not going to fit amongst the Razorlights, or The Views of today, but for festivals- yes!
There’s some sort of irony as just when you’re ready to leave as you think you’ve got all you can out of their set, an amazing riff will come out of the sky and you’ll be compelled to stay and listen. Maybe it’s intentional, maybe it’s genius? And maybe the real answer as to how well their performances go is to judge for yourself; see the musical ups and downs, see the samey parts, see the inspirational bits, decide whether to press play or eject. One thing that is fact is that they’re intriguing and they are the first act ever to still leave my mind boggling for hours after the performance!