The last time I saw Cassia, they were sat behind a merch table with a long line of adoring fans waiting to meet them. This was back in May at Gorilla in Manchester, after they’d played a show-stopping set supporting Leeds based four-piece Clay. But it seems that in those three months, a lot has happened in the land of Cassia.
All of it was written across their faces the moment that they stepped into The Exchange in Stoke: tired eyes but beaming smiles, bold enough to light up any room. And although it was a disappointing turn out for the band (in terms of crowd size), Cassia were on cloud nine.
The Lounge Act and Stu Whiston opened up the night, two contrasting bands with contrasting levels of experience. The Lounge Act were extremely tight, their version of The 1975’s ‘Sex’ was proof of that. As was the colourful spectrum of originals that were included in their set, that offered those that stood watching a diverse bunch of feelings and emotions. As tight and as entertaining as they were however, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of interaction with the audience that remained throughout. Maybe it’s part of the image they’re aspiring to have, but it’s important to remember that it’s not just the quality of live performance that leaves an audience talking.
Stu Whiston on the other hand was very vocal, his driving indie rock sound powering through the venue. Original tracks such as ‘Silver’, ‘There Was A Time’ and the anthemic finale that was ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Show’ that rose and then fell so effortlessly, were all huge talking points of the band’s set. Whiston had the crowd moving, even if his crowd were smaller than he really should have deserved, but such is the attitude towards “not local enough” headliners i.e. Cassia. Just as The Lounge Act did, Whiston and his band made it work and neither bands seemed particularly fazed by their dwindling crowd.
It was disappointing to see a band of Cassia’s size perform to a half empty venue, something I feel can only be blamed by the amount of local music supporters, who’re often too afraid to take a chance on a band they’ve never heard before. But with a busy weekend of performances at both Reading and Leeds festival ahead of them, Cassia were far from sharing my disappointment.
They played, just as they had done at Gorilla to a room packed full of excitable teenagers, to an exceptional standard and it was quite clear to everyone present that this band are the next big thing. Their signature tropi-pop sound made it virtually impossible to stand still, with tracks such as ‘Moana’, ‘Get Up Tight’ and ‘Weekender’ gaining them new fans with every strum. Rob Ellis, Jacob Leff and Lou Cotterill were comfortable on stage, something that has naturally grown from their love of performing together. Leff in particular appeared to be in his own world and the band couldn’t help but bob up and down to the music they were making.
But that night was significant for the band in more ways than one. Not only was this the first time the Macclesfield based three-piece had performed in Stoke, it was also the release day of their brand new single ‘Sink’. Scroll through their Twitter account (@wearecassia) and you’ll find an overwhelming feeling of love and support for this new track and quite literally all of their exciting musical endeavours. ‘Sink’ is taken from their brand new EP ‘Movers & Shapers’ that will follow their 2016 self-titled three-track release. ‘Sink’ is a natural progression for the band and one that is evident in their live performances.
Cassia concluded the evening with ‘100 Times Over’, their most popular track to date. Ellis’s clean guitar, Cotterill’s smooth bass line and Leff’s caribbean inspired drum beat, the three most important aspects of every song they make, slithered cooly out of the speakers and wrapped themselves around the room. For a moment the world seemed to stop and ‘100 Times Over’ seemed like it could last forever. So much so that when it came to an end, you were left wishing you could replay their entire set all over again.
Cassia have a gigantic few months ahead of them, with a potentially life changing few years in touching distance. But this is a band who are making music for the love of it, a band who befriend everyone they speak to and one that deserve every ounce of the attention they’re receiving.