I came. I saw. I heard. Mouses.
Almost a month has passed since The Georgian Theatre hosted perhaps one of the most anticipated and talked about local music events of 2016: ‘The Mouses Album’ launch. It was not simply a string of anticipation connected to the release of their debut album, nor even to the upcoming live performance and all the wonderful wacky details expected from a Mouses's gig. For many there, mostly local supporters and bands, it was about sharing a precious moment with two people they knew well, two people who were more than just Mouses The Band, two people who were seen as friends.
North Eastern music fanatics, gig addicts, journalists and musicians — we’ve all heard about Mouses by now, one of the few regional bands really pulling the spotlight with them wherever they go, whatever they do. We have most likely come across at least one stellar review of their debut album somewhere on the large electronically netted face of the Earth. Reaching the ears of local music scene freshmen, and, no doubt, complete strangers alike, they have a subtle way of gnawing into our consciences and convincing us that they are every bit worth the chance to see live.
I imagine that the buzz was there before, quiet at first, yet steadily increasing, like a growing swarm of bees, until you couldn’t help but take note. This swarming buzz doubled in size the moment it was announced that they were to perform on the BBC Introducing stage at the Leeds and Reading Festival. A bubbling viral moment on social media that revealed the great amount of regional support that the band must have earned since they arrived on the scene.
The bottle of sparkling hype didn’t pop at the festival though, it was reserved for a more exclusive occasion, an almost familial type of get-together with those first loyal fans from Teesside where they grew up, performing alongside bands they clearly held in high-esteem. This all took place in one of Stockton’s irresistibly offbeat locations: at The Georgian Theatre in the Green Dragon Yard, the very quartier culturel of Stockton.
The line-up could not disappoint. If you got there early, you would’ve found yourself in the old theatre, steadily being filled by moving bodies, lighthearted chatter and that ever rumbling undercurrent of suspense. Thinly spread on top of this suspense were the fringe sounds, laid back and psychedelic, of Tripper Gore and their idyllic guitars, followed by the darkly seductive, deep-voiced Casual Threats, living themselves into every second of their performance, and NARCS (listen to them, if you haven’t done so yet).
And then there were Mouses. Two guys. A guitar. And a drum set. Stripped-back and densely packed.
Lead singer and guitarist, Steven Bardgett might remind you of Haruko Haruhara from the quintessential quirky anime, FLCL, and their performance was a little like being hit by a yellow Vespa 180 SS scooter and a blue vintage electric guitar. The music itself was encapsulated in new waves of déjà vu with all the promised energetic-rush, expertly driven by Nathan Duff’s unstoppable drums, and strips of lyrical sticky tape that wound itself around your brain. And, let’s not forget, that necessary departure from normality that they are so well-loved for.
But what really stuck — in addition to Green Hollywood Poison — was their interaction with the crowd. It was more than just the audience singing along to the most well-known songs. It was more than just them singing the words like they were etched into their heads and hearts. Mouses's unique connection with the public was perhaps most memorably captured in the bardic moment when Steve shattered the stage-crowd barrier by inviting his audience to sit with him on stage while he sang. This is a connection rooted in their continual support and engagement with local musicians and their genuine appreciation of anyone who supports them.
After all, success is not always guaranteed by musical expertise nor by being able to play a decent set. Being visible and inspirational figures on the music scene, as is the case with Mouses, might just be as important. In that way, going to watch Mouses live, is an excellent way to have a good night out with friends but also, and more notably, to have a sudden rush of hope for the future and seeing that same hope in the eyes of others.
For a complete review of their debut album written by Steve Spithray click here.
To get a feeling for their music and style, check out their latest music videos on YouTube.