Canadian Alternative/Punk Rock band, Sumo Cyco have just embarked on their 2018 No Sleep! No Surrender! UK tour with the equally as nuts, Skarlett Riot filling the support slot.
Milton Keynes meant a 40mile dash straight from work down the notorious A5.
Not as bad a journey as I expected, saw me sat in the pub enjoying a pre-show drink staring at the stained-glass windows of Jim Morrison, Lemmy and Prince. Any pub with stained glass is alright in my book.
The Craufurd Arms is the second night of their twelve-night tour, covering England and Scotland. This is a venue I had not visited before so I was keen to see what it held.
The venue is a hall situated at the back of the Craufurd Arms pub, it is surrounded by private dwellings so I expected it to get very hot later due to insulation and no ventilation. A curfew in place confirmed that it is a noise sensitive area.
Having asked the venue staff if there was a press pit in use, to which I got the affirmative the desire to be at the front of the queue was abated and I enjoyed another cold drink.
Support band for the tour is the talented Chloe Drinkwater’s (aka ‘Skarlett’) band, Skarlett Riot. Formed in Scunthorpe in 2010 this four-piece band consisting of Chloe ‘Skarlett’ Drinkwater, Martin Shepard and brothers Danny and Luke Oglesby who have, to date, released four E.P.’s and two albums, Tear Me Down in 2013 and last year Regenerate.
This exciting new band hit the stage amid neon blue lighting, a tog’s worst nightmare. Having found that there’s actually no pit and the stage front is full of older gents with kit cameras adorning their necks standing proud like a fence around a prison, it presented an impenetrable wall of seniority and so I have no option but to squeeze my way to a viewpoint off to one side, against the speakers. Huzzah for my Alpine ear plugs, they’ll get a good work out tonight, this awful lighting compounds the disappointment.
Playing a short set of eight songs, I was immediately surprised at how good this four-piece sound. Starting off with ‘Break’, from the 2017 release Regenerate. A fast drum beat kicked in and grabbed everyone’s attention, mine included. This was obviously no local pub band as the quality of the song came across, elevating them to a band who know what they’re about. Double bass drum kicking in with a strong bass guitar making the back line as solid as the gents in the front row. The single melodic guitar amply filling in the space often filled by a brace of axemen, a perfect band for Skarlett to dance her vocals around, a great opening song.
‘The Storm’ is up next, a great harmonised sound from Shepherd’s guitar, again the double bass drum smashes into your senses as the song kicks in, Skarletts voice is somewhat symphonic as she enchants those senses still not reeling from the aural attack being dished out by the back line! WOW!
‘Empty Inside’ follows, again with the same recipe, excellent drums and guitar allowing Skarlett to strut her stuff. Dressed in black, with purple in her hair and striking eye makeup, she parades the front of the stage giving the old men something to photograph. Confident she gives the fans what they have come to see, foot on the monitors she enchants and purrs her way through the song, stopping with arms open as the guitar screams and soars around her. Why are they a support band beats me.
The set continues with yet four more songs off Regenerate these being ‘Calling’, ‘Outcast’, with its Hey, Hey, Hey intro, ‘Closer’ and set closer ‘Warrior’. ‘The Wounded’ features as the penultimate song from the earlier EP Sentience.
What a band, musically sounding a lot bigger than they looked, and then throw in the voice of Skarlett you have a band in the vain of Nightwish or Epica. A band destined for greatness.
Energetic and visual, the band proceed to deliver a performance that is worthy of any headline act.
I’d heard a lot about Sumo Cyco, a female-fronted punk rock and heavy metal-based band from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I was keen to see if they live up to expectations. This relatively new band were formed in 2011 and to date they have released two albums, sixteen singles and seventeen official music videos flying around YouTube land.
Bouncing onto the stage, singer Skye Sweetnam is wearing a bright yellow crop top underneath a large fishnet top. Combat pants complete the look which is only overshadowed by her bright pink locks, something she is making full use of by slinging them back and forth.
Guitarist, MD13, and bass player Thor, take their places as the Trozzi batters the bass drum and kicks into show opener ‘Sleep Tight’ from 2017 album Opus Mars.
Skye’s unique singing style has my attention straight away. Strangely familiar, it’s put a huge smile on my face as I snap away. Slow and precise at times then unleashed and wild, her voice cuts through with the precision of a scalpel wielded by a Cyco.
The band are tight and musical as she mounts the monitors letting the front row know she’s in the room. These senior togs are busy snapping away (motor drives going into overtime should they miss a shot). First song in and we know exactly what the night holds for us.
Having a vibe reminiscent of 80’s sk8r/thrash/punk rock, with added angst and Cyco energy, you have a sound that has evolved into something new and exciting.
The bands liveliness is evident from the get go as they dart around the stage, adopting that rock stance and head banging till it falls out of their ears, like teenagers at a headbangers ball.
‘Anti-Anthem’ follows, yet again from Opus Mar, another loud fast barrage from the second album which has MD13 smashing out an attention holding guitar riff right the way through this number. Thor’s bass thundering away as it does knitting the whole thing together. Skye continues to dominate the stage; her bright colours and animated posturing captivates. Her vocals entrance with the dynamic range that she continuously throws out to the gathered fans, who, by the way are bouncing and fist pumping along to every word.
Playing a selection from both albums and the Dua Lipa ‘New Rules’ Cover, Sumo Cyco never slow down. At one point Sever is sat upon guitarist MD13’s shoulders in the crowd creating their own mini mosh pit. Skye singing and MD playing, accurately might I add as the crowd dance around them. This is something that has now become de rigueur at any Sumo Cyco gig.
There is no doubt that the band seem to enjoy what they do, often making faces and playing to the cameras as they smash out riff after riff, Skye often staring straight down the lens as if challenging you to take the shot, gives some very interesting photo opportunities if they only slowed down a little.
Penultimate track ‘Move Mountains’ is a duet done with Skindred’s Benji Webb on the album, sadly his powerhouse of a voice and his remarkable stage presence are missing tonight. Maybe another venue on the tour will be lucky.
The night is finished off with already firm favourite ‘Undefeated’, a new single released ahead of its part of the next EP. With a decidedly reggae style chorus this song hears Skye’s vocals fly as she darts around, posing arms open one minute then swirling her bright pink locks the next. An excellent finish to a great set.
The Craufurd Arms has put on a night of unenviable talent. Skarlett Riot certainly gave a great showing of themselves, melodic guitar and symphonic vocals and great stage presence make this a band to look out for. They deserve a headline tour and soon.
Sumo Cyco came on and smashed everyone senseless. This fun band are full of talent, they rock and certainly assault the senses, never stopping even when the heat is such that MD13 makes several comments about it, Skye offers him a beer or two which he declines taking on board plenty of water instead.
The heat would be my only criticism of the night, the walls where weeping so changing lens to get shots from the back wall resulted in condensation building up to the point the camera started to drip. Bugger!
Catch both bands when you get the opportunity you won’t be disappointed.
Words and pictures: Manny Manson.