Weekend Wars are no strangers to playing in unconventional venues. Earlier this year they did a gig in a back room at a pizza bar and served up free pizza to their fans. So it’s no surprise that when they were approached by Ben Sherman and homeless charity Crisis to play a gig in the Liverpool shop to raise awareness about their fundraising initiative “Everybody in”, they jumped at the chance.
This St Helens band have been on the Gigsoup radar for a little while, suitably impressing us at Warrington’s Riv Fest back in September with their feel good, happy vibes. For those of you who don’t know, St Helens is strategically placed between the two Northern musical powerhouses of Liverpool and Manchester. The band have built up a following playing mostly in the North West as well as taking a trip down to the Brighton “Great Escape” fringe festival earlier this year.
The packed out “venue” had not long closed by the time the band were ready to soundcheck. It was late night shopping Thursday in Liverpool, and as the Christmas shoppers scuttled past the shop, our thoughts went out to the ever increasing number of rough sleepers on the streets of the city, some yards away from us.
Emerging to much applause, the band settled straight into their soon to be released new single “Tonight” recently recorded in the city’s famous Parr Street studios. As you would expect from Weekend Wars, it was upbeat and bouncy but this song went in a new direction; it had a slight feel of the 80s to it, a bit of a hint of Tears for Fears’ guitar in places.
The hugely oversubscribed gig had brought in a full house of punters who were encouraged to move forward and dutifully did so without hesitation. The fans in the audience soon settled into singing along to their more established songs such as “Easy” and “She” and “Flaws”, a song apparently dedicated to a memorable holiday in Bulgaria. One of the stands out songs of the set was their previous single release “Champagne Eyes” which was a triumph of happy jangly guitars and catchy melodies. Even the least energetic members of the audience nodded along to this.
Too soon it was the end of the set and the band took a quick breather before returning to perform an encore; a cover of ‘Stand by me’ and then one of their oldest songs in the back catalogue ‘Lies’ which required guitarist Rolo to dig deep into his musical memory to perform. The band departed to huge cheers and applause and rounded off a most successful year of live performances.
In a musical world full of similar looking and sounding bands, Weekend Wars have a number of unique selling points which help differentiate them from the crowd. Lead singer Jack Arnold is a most charismatic and striking character with flame coloured hair and impressive beard, and is a snappy dresser to boot. When not performing and writing, Jack is a keen organic gardener and cook and likes to share his achievements on the Weekend Wars instagram account, which you must check out.
Weekend Wars’ musical style is refreshingly up beat and poppy, and has slight hints of Clean Cut Kid and Reverend and the Makers running through it. Weekend Wars’ Bec Birchall is one of the finest drummers on the North West circuit and proves that the best person for the job is often a woman; so long as you give her a chance to audition. There are too few female musicians in the industry and the ones that are in bands mostly gravitate to all female set ups. Encouragingly though, some of the best up and coming bands in the Mersey region have a mixture of male and female band members such as The Sundowners with two female lead singers/guitarists and She Drew the Gun with a lone male guitarist amongst an otherwise all female crew. It would be absolutely brilliant if more bands followed their lead and would contribute to a more inclusive industry.
Finally, Weekend Wars are great friends at the end of the day who play and socialise together. Too many bands fall by the wayside because of personalities and fall outs, full credit to Matt, Andy Rolo, Jack and Bec for keeping it real and not spending their weekends at war.