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Review by Jenny Elizabeth Whitfield
Image by Daniel Potts
I haven’t been to a concert in nearly two years.
At 19 years old, I am no longer the pop-punk fanatic of my youth, and I would be lying if I said that 6ft tall strangers blocking my view of the stage and sticking to the floor of the O2 Academy was my idea of fun now. And so, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t walking into the venue on this warm, end-of-summer Saturday evening with the best mindset. But the bubbly, feel-good set that Picnic were to deliver, preceded by a host of complimentary support acts, ensured that my fit of pessimism didn’t last long.
Rising to considerable local fame since they formed in 2015, the seven piece indie jazz band released their debut EP in 2016, and haven’t stopped there. Their brand new EP Nothing to Write Home About came out on the 11th of September, and here they were sharing it with us in a heart-warming live performance.
Doors opened at 6.30pm and it wasn’t long before we were treated to other local talent, before Picnic hit the stage. Post Rome, a trio from Newcastle, kicked off the night with a remarkable set, including a swoon-worthy cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady, and their original single G.O.D which they released in May this year. Next on stage were St Buryan, who boasted a lively performance, including their single Lucid, during which nobody in the venue was standing still. Last up before the main performers were Peace Frog from Leeds. To me, they gave off Little Comets vibes, but their material was independent of that influence in it’s own right, and was of such a quality that it’s hard to believe they only formed in 2016.
After the second support act, the prospect of another was making me tired. However, once every band had played their set, I realised it was worth it. I am still in awe. The unique nature of each supporting act and the quality of their individual live performances made them, for me, absolute tributes to the Northern music scene.
Then Picnic took to the stage. They took us through a series of, what they rightfully describe as, ‘happy music for sad people’, beginning with a single from their new EP Bill You Murray Me. It set the mood for the remainder of their set, everyone moving, and all seven members working so well together on stage, whilst vocalist Robyn danced among them. The whole crowd warmed to their onstage presence. They introduced us to a number of songs from the record, including my favourite Everything, Nothing, a slow piece that seemed to fill the whole room with emotion. It was complimented nicely by their more upbeat numbers such as Julia, which was released earlier this year. The set finished with their song I Ain’t Got No Money, an irresistible song that brought everyone to their feet, demanding an encore by the time their set was through.
I truly believe Picnic provide something for everyone – be it their relatable lyrics, playful melodies or the math rock vibes that Beth White provides on the trumpet. We haven’t seen the last of this colourful, adorable group.