Review: Blossoms, Arkells get ready for Coachella at Bottom of the Hill

Blossoms, Tom Ogden, Charlie Salt, Josh Dewhurst, Joe Donovan, Myles Kellock

Photos: Diana Cordero

SAN FRANCISCO — On a cold spring night, long lines packed to get inside the tiny Bottom of the Hill. Most fans were there not for Manchester headliners Blossoms, but for their Canadian support act Arkells, who stole the show.

The Ontario band set the expectations high as soon as singer-guitarist Max Kerman walked onto the stage. Kerman told concertgoers he wanted everyone singing and dancing, and wasted no time getting the crowd engaged. He jumped onto the dancefloor during the first song, “A Little Rain (A Song For Pete).” His frenetic energy was contagious.

Arkells played a tight set including songs off their new album, Morning Report.  Each tune told a story that pulled concertgoers in. “Savannah” featured some gorgeous melodies and keyboardist Anthony Carone played a trumpet solo. Love song “And Then Some” had gorgeous guitar playing from multiple musicians.

“Knocking At The Door,” which was just released a couple of weeks ago, was a powerfully bluesy track with Kerman declaring, “Rise up!” Something changed in people during the song and the crowd’s collective charge increased further.

Blossoms, from the Greater Manchester area, exuded the baggy Madchester scene during their set of unabashed ’60s pop songs mixed with psychedelic undertones, and in some cases, a bit of Abba-esque ’70s sounds. The band played most of the songs off their self-titled debut album. The band came well-hyped and some are touting it as the next coming of Arctic Monkeys. Singer Tom Ogden did at times sound reminiscent of Alex Turner, and even had his same hip gyrations down. But the band’s performance lacked energy and oftentimes fell flat.

Myles Kellock’s keyboard dance riffs on the catchy “Honey Sweet” reminded one of New Order. Toward the end of the set, Ogden performed an acoustic number solo (as his bandmates stood and watched), but the performance felt awkward. Luckily the interlude lasted only the one song and the guitar-driven  “Cut Me And I’ll Bleed”immediately followed. The song had a simple ear worm of a hook, and it was effective. Blossoms ended their set with “Charlemagne,” their biggest hit in the U.K. and abroad. The pop song was pure, catchy sunshine pop and reanimated those in the crowd who were still coming down from an Arkells high.

L.A.-by-way-of-Texas-and-Oklahoma band Wilderado opened the show. The band had a catchy twangy pop sound filled with lots of guitars. Wilderado was able to uniquely blend American with California sunshine and psychedelia.

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