It’s a tough gig, supporting any act on their headline tour. Most in attendance are largely there to see the artist topping the bill on a night. It’s harder still when you’re one of two support acts and you’re on stage 30 minutes after doors open, the venue slowly filling up with folks making the bar run or checking belongings in at the cloak room.
But as the Nashville, Tennessee-based rising star Charlotte Sands takes the stage to chants of “Charlotte, Charlotte” at London’s Hammersmith Apollo tonight – the venue subbing for the currently license-less Brixton Academy – the only clue that she’s not the main attraction are the shrouded set pieces belonging to headliner PVRIS taking up stage space behind her.
Sands’ anthem Tantrum exploring pent-up rage, released just last September, immediately captures the Hammersmith audience, the 26-year-old moving wildly about the stage, her face largely obscured by her signature blue hair. “London! How ya doin’?!” she screams.
2022 record Love And Other Lies cut Bad Day is up next, the tune clearly familiar to the London crowd: “I had a no good, really bad, messed up day” they chant along, Sands making the most of the Hammersmith stage, charging from side to side, flailing her blue hair around. “Are you ready to jump with me?” she asks, the London crowd happy to oblige.
“I’m gonna need your help on this song” Sands asks the crowd, encouraging them to sing along to Every Guy Ever, before adding “If you don’t know it, I need you to pretend you know it and make up the words”, smiles spreading across the Hammersmith audience. And this is classic 90’s pop-punk revival at its finest, a slowly strummed guitar giving up to fast beats, kicking the tempo up three gears for it’s verses before slowing back down for the chorus. “Boys will be boys in the worst way” she chants, deliciously ear-wormy.
The tempo is brought back down next for Rollercoaster, the brooding, slow-build tune enchanting the audience, disappearing in a triumphant crescendo. Introducing latest single Alright Sands says: “This song came out yesterday. “It’s about having hope at a time when you have absolutely none. So if you relate to this song, I’m here with you and I got your back”, the tempo remaining slower (it’s all relative of course!), heavy synth-laden bass reverberating around the theatre venue. Sands encourages the crowd to raise their phone lights and sway along to the slow-drive song, the audience happy to oblige as Danen Reed Rector’s drumming kicks the tune to its next level.
“Alright, are we ready to get back into it?” Sands asks as Rector drives a fast drum tempo. “I’m gonna need your help singing this song if you guys don’t mind” the 26-year-old screams before distilling instructions and diving into uptempo tune Lost. “London, let’s go!” she screams before calling back her audience participation during the chorus.
Love and Other Lies’ breakaway hit Dress winds up Sands’ set tonight, the mere mention of the Harry Styles wearing a ball gown on the cover of Vouge-inspired tune garnering screams from tonight’s crowd, the hook-laden song’s honey-slick recorded production giving way to a raw, rock energy tonight.
Her set is over before you know it, a super brief outing for the EMO resurgence’s new shining light. But I’m sure it won’t be too long before Charlotte Sands is the main attraction at venues of this size on both sides of the Atlantic.
Charlotte Sands continues her support run with PVRIS across Europe through February and returns to the UK with Slam Dunk Festival in London and Leeds in late May.
Live review and photography of Charlotte Sands @ Hammersmith Apollo by Kalpesh Patel on 26th January 2023.