It’s a ‘job well done’ as Courts deliver a feverish headline set to their hometown fans
Having recently been championed by the likes of Julie Adenuga (Apple Music’s Beat One Radio) and, remarkably, “living legend” Elton John and with reviews of latest single ‘No Lie’ seeing the band favourably compared with The Streets and Arctic Monkeys as the “next big phenomenon” in UK music; it is with a huge sense of anticipation that Essex-based Courts take to the stage before a sold-out Chinnerys crowd.
The endearingly drab venue, along Southend seafront, has previously showcased breakthrough acts such as The Maccabees, The Libertines and Babyshambles during their formative years which perhaps makes it a fitting scene for Courts debut headline show. The sell-out status only serves to reaffirm the level of excitement surrounding the band.
Courts, consisting of brothers Dan, Reece, and Luke, vocalist Chris and drummer Joe are all local lads so tonight is something of a homecoming for the band. Juggling day-jobs and with an admirable DIY ethos, the quintet have steadily carved their way to tonight’s headline show with a refreshing blend of patience, hard-work and tenacity. Now they are turning heads with a genre-blurring sound; impossible to define but somewhere between The Stone Roses and Skepta. The esplanade is packed-out and the expectation is sky-high.
The steady momentum that Courts have gained as an outfit, is in stark contrast to their set which, after typically terse introduction, bursts into life with catchy opener ‘Glass Half Empty’.
Leaving the excitable crowd little time to dwell, the boys race through a fervent set pausing only momentarily before uplifting number ‘Feel My Love’ to introduce second percussionist and close-friend Jack to the stage and from there the show continues with an almost celebratory atmosphere.
“I don’t know enough about politics to talk it but I know enough to know they chat bullshit” the crowd enunciate, in unison, during the wonderfully-titled ‘Sanatana’; this line tapping straight into the racing veins of disaffected millennials who make up the majority of 400+ capacity audience. But Courts music is not just for the alienated and the irreverent. Lyrically, the band are as diverse as the sound they produce; encompassing the occult, Eastern philosophy, and wry social observations.
Apart from the odd “thanks” and “cheers”, the unassuming quintet rarely directly interact with their audience, but such is raw energy of their set that the crowd are nonetheless frantic – notably during crowd pleasers ‘Part Of’ and ‘No Lie’.
Seemingly unfazed on what is a momentous night for the band, Courts take it all in their stride and as the crowd throw the lyrics back towards the stage during horticulturally-themed anthem ‘Wanna Be High’, there is a smile of acknowledgement from lead singer Chris.
Ultimately, the show is a triumphant tour-de-force for Courts signature fusion sound. The delivery is both vocally, and instrumentally, flawless and as the set reaches its climax, there is an impetus surging through; a palpable energy in the crowd. There is a unity. People are actually moving to the music and there are no signs of the arrogance and posturing that can be an unfortunate by-product of hype bands – these are not posers, these guys are radiating the good vibes that have been gone for too long. Festivals everywhere are crying out for a band like Courts this summer.
It can be said that hype is as often deadly as it deserved for up-and-coming bands in the modern climate. But as proven on the night, Courts are worthy of the praise being heaped upon them. Rather than shrink beneath the pressure, they transform it into an energy that permeates through a captivated crowd in euphoric waves.
They are a band who not only straddle the boundaries between musical genres but seek to push them further, with conviction and crucially, an enjoyment in their art. Their infectious music, perhaps unsurprisingly, is quickly becoming synonymous with the sun-kissed festival season, but as the crowd file out, smiling and sweating beneath the vibrant lights of the promenade, the night too belongs to Courts.
Courts next live show will be at Camden’s KOKO on June 3rd.
This Courts article was written by Elliot Houchell, a GIGsoup contributor