Wed 22 Jun 2022

First on the bill: Celebrating openers that rocked!


The greatest loves in life are the ones that you don’t see coming. That’s why there’s no feeling quite like going to see one of your favourite bands, only to fall even harder for the artist playing just before them.

Any gig-goer will be familiar with this phenomenon. Why? Because it’s the most organic way of discovering music. Plus, the cost is already covered in your ticket. These moments aren’t common, but when they do arise, it’s an experience you don’t forget.

As a hats-off to all the supporting acts who stole the show, we asked gig-goers to share their best discovery stories with us. Here are some of our favourite memories:

Blossoms @ Castlefield Bowl, 2016

With the best-selling debut album of 2016, this northern indie pop group quickly took to the spotlight. Prior to their overnight stardom, they were busy grafting in their local town, playing any gig they could find. Meanwhile, I was doing my A-levels at a college in Stockport, close to where the musicians had joined forces. I heard about their recent success through hanging out at the Blossoms pub on my free periods. Back then, it was a hot topic as to whether this pub had inspired their name (it had). It wasn’t long before my friends and I went to see them supporting The Courteeners. They brought an energy and performance that we reminisce to this day. – Heidi Dixon. 

Mahalia @ Boardmasters, 2021

As I was killing time, hopping sets, in anticipation for Slowthai, I was lucky enough to stumble upon this Leicester-born R&B talent at Boardmasters. Like a siren, her voice had the crowd magnetised. We were hanging off every vocal of ‘What You Did’. It just brimmed with raw emotion. Despite the bigger acts, her performance lingered in the mind throughout the four-day festival blur. This young singer-songwriter is only just getting started. One to watch!” – Emilia Mallett.

The Subways @ Old Trafford Cricket Ground, 2010.

It was the late 2000’s. We got tickets to see Foo Fighters, but weirdly, I’ll always remember discovering this indie little band who came on stage as their support. They greeted the crowd with an endearing mix of humility and swagger. Loads of uplifting bangers that got the crowd moving, especially during ‘Rock & Roll Queen’ which is pretty well known now. – Nathan O’delle

The Killers @ Leeds Festival, 2005

I saw the Killers for the first time at Leeds Festival, 2005, back when it was sponsored by Carling! We were waiting for Pixies to come on stage, who were the big headliner that evening. Just before that, The Killers were on.

I’d heard of the Killers. Their debut studio album, Hot Fuss, had come out the year before, which would soon skyrocket them to fame. But I’m so glad I caught them on the cusp of this because the atmosphere was so special. You could feel how excited they were to play; the energy was something else. That same year they were named The World’s Best New Group at the World Music awards. You can see why… They stole the show.” – Karen Heggs

Sea Girls @ Y Not? Festival, 2019

“A few years ago, I went to Ynot festival. Derbyshire’s own glasto. Not many people have heard of this northern indie festival, but it’s hosted some big names. Data-less, we weren’t sure what time any of the headliners were due. We just hung out at one of the main stages, bopping away until this edgy-looking boy band came out grinning with their guitars. They owned the stage! Their catchy sing-along lyrics livened up the audience from the get-go.  I’d say their sound was rowdy and hectic in the best way- they reminded me of bands like the Kooks and Catfish. A perfect way to kick-off a festival set.” – Ellys Brown

Point is, get down early to watch the support… You might see something special, something to tell the kids about…