Gig Scene: Hot times for Summer City

Summer City from Ripon.
Summer City from Ripon.

By Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers

Is there something in the water in the Harrogate district these days?

Suddenly we’re in the middle of a golden period for young rock bands making waves outside the area.

Actually, I think it’s partly down to the effect of the AMP Awards, the incredibly successful annual battle of the bands involving indie and rock and pop groups from all the local secondary schools.

It sets such high standards that the youngsters themselves seem to rise to new levels, too, based, obviously, on their own talents in the first place.

The latest AMP Awards ‘graduates’ to prosper are punky-poppy four-piece Summer City who were the winners in 2011.

Made up of Benji Adams (guitar/vocals), Kit Parker (bass), Alex Gath-Walker (synth) and Ben Reynard (drums), the band’s debut single We Were On A Break was made BBC Radio 1’s Introducing single of the week.

With its synth and guitar blend of influences from Jimmy Eat World to The Ramones, the track was playlisted by the likes of Fearne Cotton and won a famous fan in the shape of Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus who said, and I quote, “it’s one of my favourite songs of all time.”

The song is currently available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

Last Saturday night’s sold-out acoustic show with Karl Culley at Harrogate Theatre Studio was one of those truly memorable musical occasions which come along every now and then.

As well as a sensational performance of songs from his new album Phosphor by the charming Culley himself; (some of his guitar techniques drew audible gasps from people behind me), there were also amazing performances from the deliciously dark Dragonfly Tattoo and the passionate Samantha Smith.

I’d organised the not-for-profit event (I’ve always been a bit, er, ‘unconventional’ as an organiser) partly to keep my hand in now that I’m no longer programme coordinator for Harrogate International Festival Fringe which I did for its first three years and loved.

This year’s splurge of Fringe events organised by the Festival team seems to be sticking to the template set by myself and the original coterie of unpaid Fringe supporters - a mix of music events, talks, arty happenings, talks, all in all a wonderful showcase for both local talent and a smattering of ‘name’ acts from outside Harrogate.

Having now moved to an earlier date (late May/early June), and with the fantastic Spiegeltent returning to Crescent Gardens, too, it looks like this year’s Fringe could be really exciting.

See Karl Culley live review at

Having been taking of the AMPs earlier, one of this year’s finalists, Ripon band These Young Sons, are launching their debut EP called One More Time tonight, Friday at The Matrix in their home city.

In advance of reviewing it properly, Gig Scene has been given a sneak preview and, boy, is it good.

Incidentally, support at tonight’s gig comes from Summer City and Your Illuminations.