Sumo Cyco @ The Retro Bar
A big night for a small gig
It’s not very often that I happen upon a random gig last minute and come out with a new favourite band, worthy of many hours of listening and research.
Last April, I was in Limerick’s Dolans music venue to see my favourite local band play for the final of Indie Week Ireland, which they’d won a couple of years beforehand. I got there just in time to see Sumo Cyco, a feisty female fronted punk metal band from Toronto, Canada who won Indie Week 2013- and they blew me away in only a couple of songs. A year later, with most of their songs learned off by heart, and I had the chance to go see them again in the Retro Bar whilst they toured to promote their début album, Lost In Cyco City.
The evening began early and featured four local support bands over three hours. Honestly, the bands were pretty good, but three hours was a bit overkill - though it was nice to be introduced to other alternative local bands. It was the first time I’d been to the Retro Bar, and I absolutely loved the intimacy of the venue. The whole night was a very relaxed one; the atmosphere was so chilled and friendly. It’s a pity there hadn't been any younger members of the audience, because it would have been just the right setting for them to get a little deeper into the alternative music scene.
Let’s face it; sometimes it’s terrifying to be in a room full of pierced people all wearing black and head banging to loud music, especially when you’re new to it all.
While the support acts played through their ridiculously long sets, the members of Sumo Cyco could be seen hanging out in the crowd, drinking beer and enjoying the bands that were there to support them and get the audience hyped. Front woman Sever was sitting behind a little stall just two meters from the stage, and I got to chat with her. She told me that she intends to come back to Ireland and the UK next year (whooo, it’s a date!), and she informed me that Lost In Cyco City will be available at HMV from May 25th.
Finally, at 9:30pm the last support act left the stage to leave way for the band we’d all been waiting for. During the support acts the audience was very loose, comfortably filling the smallish room. But as soon as Sumo Cyco did their last sound checks the audience were crammed together, trying to get as close to the stage as possible. They unveiled the Sumo Cyco banner behind them - “it’s too plain” complained my partner in crime, Dennis - and the show began.
Sever came bopping on stage, a flick of blue and blond curled hair, starting the set well with Loose Cannon. The liveliness of the whole band was amazing. Sever gave it all with her usual high-energy jumping and head banging that got us all hyped up and into the already catchy songs. It was during their second song, Mercy, that Sever wandered into the small crowd for the first time and danced with us. It was only possible due to the intimacy of the venue, which was nice, but also distracting to follow what was going on. Sumo Cyco blazed through their album for a whole hour and a half, from the better-known songs that are part of the storyline the band have used for their music videos like The Ugly or Go Go Go, to the ones that don’t even have their own lyric videos on the band’s own YouTube channel yet, like Fuel My Fire or Crowd Control. They even performed their cover of Macklemore’s Can’t Hold Us, much to the delight of the crowd.
Nevertheless, the majority of the audience knew a great deal of the lyrics; they shouted when they were supposed to, sang when they were supposed to, and raised their fists when they were supposed to. For a little-known band from the other side of the world, its fan base in Manchester that made the effort to show its support on Friday night was pretty inspiring- especially when the album still hasn’t been released here yet.
Spirits high and hearts thumping, Sever tied up her hair as the band got into the last part of the set. The heat in the small space was intoxicating. Bopping up and down on the stage for My Name Is Rock And Roll, Sever eventually jumped into the audience and walked up to the bar to lay on it, much to the amusement of the audience. She was just making her way back to the stage when the band stopped playing behind her, and final song was called. Sumo Cyco ended the night with the song from their latest music video, Fighter and the whole audience was singing along in earnest. After a quick bow, the band left the stage; Sever returning to the stall to say goodbye to those who had come to support the group.
Aside from the ridiculous three hours of support bands before Sumo Cyco even got near the stage, I could only find one fault with the gig. From where I was standing, there was very little interaction between the band members, which is always something I enjoy at a gig. Apart from that, Sever had great interaction with the audience and made us all feel welcome, which of course in turn engaged the crowd. It was an unforgettable hour and a half, with just the right amount of intimacy to make it a one-of-a-kind gig that is hard to replicate elsewhere. Watch out, Manchester, Sumo Cyco will be back in a year, and next time, you’d better be there!
Words Missy Beaudelot