“This is your safety briefing: I don’t know anything about safety. This doesn’t seem very safe, it seems like something Jack organised”, Frauds greet us aboard the Alcopopacruiser, an unexpected addition to the lineup (I can’t be the only one who was expecting to hear The Subways Billy Lunn…) but a welcome one. It’s the second time Jack and Rhi of Alcopop records have put on a gig on the Thames, a combination very few other labels would have even considered. But then this is the label who once put out a compilation on a bike and who, just a month ago, sent out copies of the new Pulled Apart By Horses single on tape, for free, to anyone that messaged their address. They’re not the most orthodox of labels and we love them for it. As people continued to board, Frauds continue to perform, which I presume is what it felt like to board the Titanic once upon a time. The two piece really set the tone for the evening; loud and fun. Musically the duo make a hell of a lot of noise for their size and they’re quite amusing as performers too – the dance/spoken word sections with the cape was a highlight in the set. The new album Long Spoons came out recently and is definitely worth checking out.
As the boat heads out past the millennium wheel, Beach Riot take to the stage. Their incredibly lively set was thrilling to watch, the massive sounding guitars really standing out while the energetic drums and bass line really hit hard. I haven’t really listened to the band before, which is a real shame as it’s clear from their live sound that this is exactly my kind of band. The group vocals over a wash of guitars in the choruses are brilliant, but it’s the the grungy riffs that really make it.
With the Millennium Dome (all of my London sightseeing knowledge apparently centres on the year 2000) in the background, Dream Nails follow with the kind of punky energy that’d be impressive on a static stage, let alone one that’s rocking from side to side as we pass a bigger ship. Somehow ignoring the slight sea-sickness (“I’m at an 8 out of 10”) that energy is utilised well, using their songs to get across their feminist/lgbt-supporting message across, with songs such as They/Them with it’s “non-binary resistance!” line and Take Up Space stating what women could do without fear in a world without predatory men. I also really enjoyed Text Me Back, complete with an All The Things She Said breakdown in the middle. A great band delivering really important messages and having fun while doing it!
Finally it’s time for Tellison. Back in mid-2020 I said the pandemic would be over when I could scream the first line of Get On and, while that may not actually be the case, it still felt like after a year and a half everyone was ready for it. One of the most criminally underrated bands in the UK, I still feel like Tellison should have been selling out arenas with their ability to write massive hooks that get everyone singing along but we’re lucky they’re still out there performing and, apparently, writing new music! A set spanning everything they’ve done to date, including one of the new tracks they’re sitting on for a forth album, this was really a selection of greatest hits from the band, the tracks the most their fans seem to click with, the songs where the band can be drowned out by the voices of everyone aboard the boat. As their set drew to a close and the opening piano chords rang out for Get On no one held back, the energy on the boat as it returned to port was incredible. We needed that.