BIG RED RISING #17 - LITTLE RED KINGS / DISTRIT 13 / CIRCUS 66 - The Big Red, London 02.03.19




The Big Red in North London has a growing reputation as one of the capital’s premier venues for showcasing new rock talent and central to that reputation is its Big Red Rising nights on the first Saturday of every month. Each night has three up and coming bands playing a good length set and the free entry, hipsterish vibe and good location pretty much guarantee a decent size crowd for them. 

The first band to make their way through the fruity fug of vape smoke is CIRCUS 66, who launch into their own dirty brand of rock n roll. The start time of ten past nine means the audience are already well lubricated and it’s not long before they’re dancing away to the bands surprisingly funky chops. 

Make no mistake these are a talented band, the slap bass, the hard-hitting drums, the precise solos and singer Annabelle Zaychenko’s powerful vocals all come together to create a crowd-pleasing combination. The songs too are well crafted, the big chorused ‘Little Texas Princess’ proving a highlight. 

Despite Zaychenko’s best efforts, the band as a whole lack a little stage presence and some of the patter between songs felt a little forced, also the cover of ‘Come Together’ felt a little unnecessary for a band whose own material is strong enough to stand on its own. CIRCUS 66 are perhaps not quite the finished article just yet, but they certainly show promise and you’d be hard pushed to find a punter here tonight who wasn’t at least stomping their foot to the beat. Ones to watch, for sure.

Circus 66 are:

Annabelle Zaychenko - Lead Vocals
Matt Pearce - Guitars & Vocals
Luke Ward - Bass & Vocals
Leigh Holley - Drums & Wailing

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Next up on a numerical heavy bill is DISTRICT 13, a power trio whose genre is hard to pin down. At times they feel like their playing straight ahead, no frills heavy rock, at others, they slip into a sludgy, grunge sound and at other points, their solid groove is reminiscent of early Therapy? Most surprising is when they drift towards melodic dark wave, almost latter-day Depeche Mode territory. It’s a lot to take in all at once and their unique sound seems to confuse sections of the crowd - although that could also be the liberal amounts of booze they’ve imbibed, of course. 

At first, their set seems to lack energy; the small stage seems restrictive and both guitarist and bassist are rooted to their microphones. As the tempo builds though so does the energy and both the band and the audience grow into the evening. It all still feels a little too controlled though and it would be nice to see them really push themselves and let loose. They have decent songs but a lack of focussed direction and slightly muted performance suggest they didn’t quite fulfil their potential on this night at least.

District 13 are:

Jon - Vocals, Guitars
Richard - Bass, Backing Vocals
Asen - Drums, Backing Vocals

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And so, onto the final band of the evening, Norwich’s LITTLE RED KINGS. A more laid-back affair than the preceding bands, they play a rootsy, bluesy brand of southern rock and they do it damn well too. Keyboardist John Pallister adds an extra dimension to their sound - although it occasionally got a little lost in the mix - and singer Jason Wick’s easy-going manner helps create a cool vibe that permeates through the venue. The crowd in front of the stage swells noticeably and LITTLE RED KINGS deliver easily the most assured set of the evening, comfortable on stage and confident in their songs.

Not all is going quite to plan however, Wick swigs from a bottle of medicine (bringing a new meaning to the drugs element of sex, drugs and rock and roll) and apologises for his voice as he is suffering from what he labels “Norfolk Flu”. However, if this is how he sounds when under par, then he must be incredible when at full strength. 

The band play on, consumed by the music and the beautiful, blissed-out grooves wash across an appreciative crowd. They sound like they’d be ideal tunes for a hot summer festival day. There is also a commercial appeal to them, there’s more than a hint of 70’s radio-friendly rock to the tunes, a dash of Springsteen and a whole lot of talent are also thrown in to create an enticing blend. It is just a shame that the “Norfolk Flu” has the last laugh as it forces them to cut their set short but they have done more than enough here to suggest that bigger things are around the corner. The evening draws to a close, the crowd return to the bar and a good night was had by all. Who says you don’t get anything for free these days?


Little Red Kings are:


Jason Wick - vocals, guitar

John Pallister - keys, vocals

Harry Wickham – drums

Dougie Archer - guitar 

Ben Beach – bass


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