Hoops – Soup Kitchen, Manchester – 4/5/17

Soup Kitchen is still the hub of cultural and musical excitement it always has been, it’s basement as welcoming as ever despite a slight shock on entering (the stage is higher and the bar has moved, a big deal for us locals). The dark and dingy room is already busy by 8:25pm, ready and waiting for the show to start.

Indiana’s Hoops have flown across the pond to play for us tonight, but first up is Tough Love Records own Cymbals. The four-piece have been inactive for a while now, starting work on their new album late last year, ready for its release this August. Frontman Jack Cleverly thanks the crowd for being there since their absence from the scene, proudly adorned in a royal blue shirt that reads “DÉRIVES IN PARIS” – perfectly embellishing their band’s dual nationality. Both new tracks never heard before get everyone moving their hips, although perhaps not as much as for ‘The Natural World’, we miss 2013.

After a short break, 5 new fresh faces grace the stage and dive straight into a hazy yet delicate intro which develops beautifully into the first Hoops track I ever heard – ‘Rules’. The packed out room smiles and cheers, immediately singing along “I don’t understand, where the hell you’re coming from” and bopping along to its irresistible bouncy chorus. As the track comes to a close Drew Auscherman addresses the audience “Hi, we’re Hoops from Indiana… It’s okay if you don’t know where that is” he laughs after a slightly stunned silence “…it’s in America”. ‘On Top’ is the next number of the set, the assortment of all 3 vocalists brings something new to the table at every moment. As an avid gig-goer, it’s a shame to admit that you can sometimes get a little bored during a live set but tonight was not one of those gigs. Stimulating and freeing, in reality I’m stood in a dark and cramped room, but my mind is at one with the world frolicking in the wilderness.

“We’re gonna play some deep cuts from the album now” the band announce to cheers from the crowd. ‘Management’ and ‘All My Life’s melodies bring you up to their level of joy and energy. Every flick of a wrist on the snare or twiddle of a finger on that sweet riff is is a craft honed and perfected. As the five gentlemen leave the stage, the busy room claps and screams “PLAY MORE! PLAY MORE!” one very Northern voice can be heard clearly above the clammer to which others join in with. The band return with awkward but content smiles on their faces “Thankyou…we haven’t played this in a long time” as they delve into ‘Yeah’ from 2016’s Hoops EP. It’s more minor tones bring the night to an ideal close, smiles transferred to the faces of the crowd as they unwillingly slink out, still screaming for more.

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