A night out in Brighton that started out like any other. I arrived at the venue, surveyed the other attendees and got a drink. But this night in particular was set to be an intriguing one. The band, Safety Jacket, hosted their album launch at the Rialto Theatre debuting ‘Honey From the Wasp Nest’.
The night started with two support acts before the main event. Opening the show was bobbysmiles. A dreamy mix of acoustic guitar, clarinet and silky vocals from the artist formed his lounge pop style set, starting the night off on a strong foot. The charismatic singer wooed the crowd gathered at the foot of the stage and gently eased us all into our Friday night. Notable songs from the set include ‘Duvet’ and ‘Metadata’.
Second on stage was ‘Maxamlian’ who personally reminded me of Radiohead, specifically the album ‘The Bends’ with flashbacks to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set in the most British way imaginable. Not as strong as the first act, I noticed most of his songs followed a very similar structure. Slow start with just a guitar, then the drums come in and it picks up the pace. Although entertaining and beautifully sung, it got a bit samey towards the end.
Now for the main event, Safety Jacket. I went in with no expectations, I didn’t want to ruin the live experience with a studio version of the songs in my head. I noticed a stark contrast between Safety Jacket and the band’s support. Safety Jacket are grittier, heavier and less refined but more zealous on stage. Self-proclaimed indie rock doesn’t quite suit them in my eyes. The amount of passion and the-rough-around-the-edges musicality gave the show more of a punk feeling without the energy to match.
This album was very clearly a personal story of grief and loss of beloved people in his life and this shone through in the music. The level of care and emotion punctured through the crowd. However, the mix of on-the-nose lyrics and the music itself created somewhat of a jagged edge to it all- it seemed unsanded in places, hacked at with a saw. And, if that is what they were aiming for, they more than succeeded. There is a quote that says: ‘When you can’t speak, you sing’, and in this instance even singing gave way to yells and screams from the lead singer, George, that gave off such intense glimmers of potential, a skill and unyielding passion just begging to be put to use. This created some of my favourite moments of the whole night.
In the humble opinion of one music reviewer, I just wish they would lean towards punk more than indie rock. I can see that level of passion in this young band and wish they hadn’t shied away from something that just ever so slightly missed the mark for me.
It is hard to quite put into words how this album made me feel. There were funny lyrics in sincere songs that threw me off kilter with a personal favourite being: ‘And I’m sorry that I punched your dog’ in a song detailing personal and social failings that no one else even batted an eyelid at- but totally threw me.
I feel this band has such strong potential with the right backing and a stronger musical direction. My favourite song from this night was ‘Young Professionals’ explaining the lead singer’s strife in feeling behind from his peers and even those younger than him that seems to just fit into a 9-5 office job- something that I think all of us who work an unconventional job can relate to. It got the crowd going and that energy and way of songwriting is something this band needs to cling on to and develop.
Overall, it was a fun night and I am excited to see what Safety Jacket will create in the future.