Sports Team's electrifying live set revvs up Free At Noon - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

The decibel level was in the red at today’s Free At Noon concert, when Londoners Sports Team brought their revved-up punk energy to World Cafe Live.

It was an early set time for this band that’s clearly more designed for dark clubs and electric night hours, which could explain lead singer Alex Rice’s somewhat aloof presence – shout-singing stoically with his hands tucked in jacket pockets, pacing the stage perimeter when he wasn’t on the mic – but he nevertheless had a detached command of the crowd, who hollered at the top of their lungs as soon as the band was announced. More active were his frenzied bandmates: rhythm guitarist and vocalist Rob Knaggs, lead guitarist Henry Young, bassist Oli Dewdney, drummer Al Greenwood, and keyboardist Ben Mack.

The initial impression Sports Team makes is loud and fast four-chord garage rock aligned with 80s punks Buzzcocks and aughties revivalists Libertines. Reducing the band to that lane would lose sight of their more nuanced moments, though. “R Entertainment” boasts a fervent rhythm and blues drive that recalles The Chambers Brothers’ “Time Has Come Today” and Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire.” The punchy “M5” mixed a poppy keyboard melody out of Violent Femmes’ “Gone Baby Gone” and a hazy hook harkening back to Voxtrot’s “Kid Gloves” (and whatever songs inspired that post-millennial nugget).

Throughout the set, Greenwood’s drumming was a driving force, particularly on “Unstuck,” where it pushed the music into a swinging moment that was both hard-hitting and uplifting. And on “Happy (God’s Own Country),”  Rice and Knaggs engaged in a thrilling vocal call and response, creating a playful and conversational dynamic to juxtapose the moments where the instruments veered into dissonance.

The set was largely a showcase of Sports Team’s 2022 album Gulp!, spotlighting five of that album’s ten songs; other moments came from the band’s 2020 releases Deep Down Happy and Making Hay, with one standalone single in the mix as well. If you missed the set, listen back and check out photos below; the band has one date remaining in their North American tour (tomorrow night in Saratoga Springs), and we hope to see them back in Philly soon.

Sports Team Free at Noon - 04.14.2023
Sports Team
Free At Noon
  • The Game
  • Happy (God's Own Country)
  • Dig
  • R Entertainment
  • Unstuck
  • M5
  • Here's The Thing
  • The Drop
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