Some say that timing is everything, and in the case of Scottish noisy pop-rockers Vukovi, that saying certainly holds some notable weight to it. Though the band certainly haven’t been quiet over the years, dropping a couple of EPs and making a few tour support and festival appearances here and there, it’s not until now with the release of their debut album that the quartet are standing up for everyone to take notice, and nothing celebrates that more than a headline tour.
Blackpool’s Jekyll  are the local openers for the Manchester date of the run, and they certainly seem to have brought some of their hometown fans along with them in the first couple of rows. Their sound is reminiscent of early era Placebo venturing into Nine Black Alps-esque territory at times, and some Idlewild areas at others. Frontman Joel Foster‘s vocals soar, and with that alongside new guitarist Mike Spence rubbing up his guitar with a toy gun, Jekyll have potential at their core.
The tour’s main support Critics , who come from several different parts of the country respectively, take the evening in a bit more of a pop direction. It takes a few songs for them to get into their stride, but once they do it’s difficult to not tap you feet along with them. They’re part Maximo Park, part Scouting With Girls, and part Scissor Sisters at times. Lynn Paighton‘s vocals get a little nasal at moments, but with highlights like ‘All My Friends’ and ‘Key Lime Pie’, it’s obvious Critics have cracked the code of fun, we just need it to be a bit more frequent.
Rising stars-to-be Vukovi , however, sweep the show and claim what’s rightfully theirs. Their debut album has only been out for three days, but already most of the crowd know pretty much every lyric that’s being sung to them. ‘La Di Da’ is a crunchy alt rock hit, ‘Bouncy Castle’ is, as expected, incredibly bouncy, and ‘Animal’ easily stands as one of the strongest and captivating offerings in the band’s arsenal.
Though the thumping rhythm section from bassist Jason Trotter and drummer Colin Irving provide the heartbeat to the band, and guitarist Hamish Reilly pumps in the adrenaline, it’s vocalist Janine Shilstone that’s making sure there’s a bloodstream to move it all along. Shilstone‘s voice during the likes of the much more solemn moments of ‘Prey’ and ‘He Wants Me Not’ really shines through its full potential, and grabbing recording phones from the fans in the front row throughout the set, and focusing them directly on her not only gives their building fanbase more intimate footage, but also a direct connection.
By the time we reach the final moments of set closer ‘Boy George’, it’s pretty clear that Vukovi haven’t just got their sights on being one of the most exciting newbies to watch this year, but are also looking to grasp the crown amongst the genre elite who are several albums deep already. If their peers aren’t careful, Vukovi will be nabbing it for themselves in no time.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)