Escaping the cold and dark of Leeds’ streets on the night of the 26th October, I made my way down to the basement of The Wardrobe to watch Hooton Tennis Club play. The band, comprised of Ryan Murphy, James Madden, Harry Chalmers and Callum McFadden, are 4 long-time friends from Liverpool. They released their 2nd album Big Box of Chocolates earlier this year; a lo-fi, indie garage arrangement, full of eccentric and whimsical lyrics. If you’re into The Orwells or early Wombats, give them a listen.
Kicking off the set, Hooton came on and played the first song off their new album, ‘Growing Concerns’. Their songs move from catchy hooks and quirky lines to crashing cymbals and walls of noise, and Big Box of Chocolates as an album reflects that; a sort of lazy rock.
They played songs from both their new album and debut, Highest Point In Cliff Town, released last year. The two aren’t dissimilar, both exhibiting the rough charm that Hooton Tennis Club do well, with the newer album feeling slightly more polished.
The venue was by no means packed, but the band seemed to be having fun regardless, glancing at each other with cheeky smiles. The songs they played had the same quality; carefree, silly and fun. I had a suspicion that if the venue was perhaps fuller, then there would have been a lot more energy, as their music isn’t the kind to listen to standing still. Hooton themselves certainly weren’t static, with the bassist Callum McFadden (not a small man mind you) stomping around the stage like a clumsy giant.
Moving between their albums new and “old”, (Murphy often made a point of stating “it’s only a year old”), they played songs such as ‘Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair’; case in point for demonstrating the infectiously fun and loud style of the band with lines like “And even if you’re lonely, we can go for a walk in the park/or maybe go swimming, I hope we don’t drown”
Hooton closed on a single from their debut, ‘P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L P.I.E.R.R.E.’, another brilliantly strange and catchy noise-pop tune. They left to a rapturous round of applause from the half full room. As mentioned before, I feel this band are one that, if playing to a more substantial crowd, would certainly incite dancing of some kind. Regardless, the energy emitted from Hooton Tennis Club’s performance were enough to make it a gig well worth going to, and heading back into the murky streets, I was silently mouthing “P. O. W. E. R. F. U. L….”By Dariush Bahri