Gig Review: English Teacher at the Wedgewood Rooms

English Teacher, courtesy of Denmarc Creary

Gig Review: English Teacher at the Wedgewood Rooms

Last week, I headed out on a school night and joined a sell-out crowd at Southsea’s Wedgewood Rooms to see Leeds artsy-indie fourpiece English Teacher. The band is in the midst of a monster tour to celebrate their debut album This Could Be Texas (keep an eye out for them on the festival scene this summer), and feel tipped for utter greatness. I first heard them on BBC Radio 6 Music where they’ve had heavy rotation, and Guitar.com called them “2024’s hottest new guitar band”.

It was wall-to-wall in Wedge, full of the kind of eclectic audience you might expect would come out to see one of the most interesting, and most difficult-to-categorise new bands. Formed in 2020, English Teacher are Lily Fontaine on lead vocals, guitar and synth, Lewis Whiting on lead guitar, Douglas Frost on drums and Nick Eden on bass.

They appeared on stage with the lights down low, accompanied by a cacophony of strange, raucous noises, before launching straight into the new album’s closing track, Albert Road. I’d like to think this was no accident given Wedge’s address, but it was a perfect opening regardless.

Albert Road is one of my favourites from the album, it starts slow and mellow then builds to a rich, dreamy crescendo that’s ever so slightly off in the best possible way. We could really hear the beautiful huskiness of Lily’s vocal through the verses, and the passion behind her rising, primal scream at the end.

Then it was straight into I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying, with its chant-like vocals and furious guitars. Taking a breath to greet the crowd, they told us they’d played Edge of the Wedge (“that bit through there”) the last time they’d been in Southsea, and a few punters let them know they’d been there.

Next, Lily pulled up to the keyboard to lead the band through Broken Biscuits, delivering its searing social commentary in a spoken word style against contrastingly playful piano and thumping drums. English Teacher do a big finish so well and this was another one – growing to a rousing culmination of sound and light.

Sticking with the theme, Lily introduced the next song as ‘political’ before the band started Not Everybody Gets to Go to Space, a trippy observation of inequality and privilege. Then it was into the delicate and string-laden Mastermind Specialism, before the band’s self-described ballad, You Blister My Paint, with its disorienting warp on Lily’s voice.

Continuing through their debut album (we were treated to the whole thing), the band then played album opener Albatross which finished in another frenetic whirlwind of sound, and the slow-burn title track, all pounding chords and rippling riffs.

We had a collective giggle with Lily as she introduced the next song – Sideboob – full of warm synths and echoey spoken verses. On to The Best Tears of Your Life, which sounded just incredible live, an all-encompassing wall of sound with another gut-punch finish.

Switching it up, the band told us it was time for something more upbeat and happy, giving us breakthrough single The World’s Biggest Paving Slab. This was such a crowd-pleaser, it’s impossible not to move to its slightly menacing bass and suddenly soaring chorus. They ended the main show with a pulse-pounding performance of Nearly Daffodils, Lily ripping the fake daffodils from her mike stand to chuck them to the back of the stage, before finishing off with R&B.

For their encore, English Teacher gave us a sultry cover of LCD Soundsystem’s New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, a characteristically-unobvious choice for a band that always seem a step ahead. English Teacher’s music is edgy, rousing, sometimes unsettling and even a little bit weird, but wow, does it work. These are teachers we should all be listening to.


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