Live Review: Hot Mulligan & Spanish Love Songs @ 02 Academy 2 Birmingham 8th September 2023


In support of their most recent release, Hot Mulligan have been back in UK celebrating ‘Why Would I Watch’. With a run of shows in small and intimate venues, this was always going to be a sell out tour. Bringing American rock band, Spanish Love Songs along as support, a match made in heaven for everyone in attendance.

Even with a September heat wave, fans for both bands were out in force. Looking forward to hearing both bands new releases live for possibly the first time, there was a definite buzz around the venue.

Opening up the evening, supporting act Spanish Love Songs came on strong with Routine Pain from Previous album “Brave Faces Everyone”. With a gentle opening building up to something loud an punchy, it’s a great way to start a set with style. Taking a minute to acknowledge the ridiculous heat the UK is facing right now, vocalist Dylan Slocum joked about having to choose looking cool over feeling cool to keep up with the aesthetic.

Diving into a couple of new tracks off freshly released album “No Joy” both Clean-Up Crew and Pendulum sounded flawless with perfect sound quality continuing throughout the set. Giving a mixture of both new and old tracks, this set created a buzz with the crowd up to make sure they secure tickets to their next UK shows. Having only been out a short period of times, tracks from No Joy stood out just as much as older fan favourites such as Buffalo Buffalo.

Haunted came as a particular stand out track of the show. With a sonic and synth drenched opening you’re caught a little off guard with the different sound. Having incredibly catchy lyrics throughout the verses and chorus its a great track live.

What made Spanish Love Songs set so special is how everyone in the room wanted to feel present throughout. With it being around three years since the band have last been here, everyone wanted to make the most of it.

A rare occasion at a gig, the crowd wasn’t filled with everyone’s phone lighting up with their camera and watching the show through a screen. Once the obligatory snap for the gram had been secured, it was simply about us, the music, and being in the moment.

With Spanish Love Songs there feels a huge contradiction. There’s a desire for them to be playing much bigger venues to massive audiences, but at the same time you want things to stay small, intimate, and almost like a best kept secret. Each song has its own huge energy that fills a small room and really gets you caught in the moment.

Known for their immense story telling lyrics, throughout their 9 track set you were left feeling like you’d been on a journey with not only the band but everyone else in the room. Never shying away from the more difficult and hard hitting areas of life, it’s impossible to ignore the passion and personal energy that Slocum punches into each lyric that’s sung to and with the crowd. With each song having something that will hit home and get you tearing up, you’re really made to feel everything; even if its uncomfortable. Surrounded by so many that appreciate such a special band, it’s a truly cathartic experience to be a part of.

Rounding off an emotionally charged set, Spanish Love Songs gave us one last chance to yell it all out. Finishing up with Brave Faces Everyone things closed off with the crowd chanting the title lyric back to the band at the top of their lungs. With the final notes of the instruments still echoing out it was an incredibly slick end to a perfect set. 9/10

Following on from some sad hits with optimistic bangers thrown in, it was time for our headliners Hot Mulligan. With an emo pop punk sound, there’s a massive youthful energy about the band that they are hungry to make it big and have their tracks heard by the masses.

Kicking things off by just throwing out back to back bangers before interacting with the audience, you’re instantly given the impression this is going to be a set where you will barely have time to catch your breath.

Contrasting a calmer crowd that we had with Spanish Love Songs, Hot Mulligan fans are quick to step things up a notch and get some crowd surfing and dancing going. Opening with OG Bule Sky you know were still here for emo bangers but with a totally different sound.

Following on with *Equip Sunglasses* this track feels like the perfect fit for our final summer days of the year. With a bright and bubbling guitar riff that pulls a smile onto your face, its one that brings out the joy of live music.

Taking one of few breaks for the evening, Hot Mulligan had their moment to humble brag. With the majority of shows across this UK stretch totally sold out, it’s not too far from the truth that they’ve just being saying it’s totally sold out anyway. With a rapid rise in popularity, and the bangers they’ve been putting out, it’s not hard to see why there’s such a demand for tickets.

Bringing out tracks from their newest album ‘Why Would I Watch’, It’s a Family Movie She Hates Her Dad receives an excitable response with everyone in the crowd well rehearsed on every lyric. Going back to back with another track from the album, Gans Media Retro Games is easily one of the most fun songs live. Although early on in the set, its safe to say its a stand out of the evening.

Going back to the non stop energy of the evening and slightly out of breath, Vocalist Nathan Sanville takes a minute to remind any aspiring songwriters in the crowd you need to remember you’ve got to be able to breathe, noting some of their fast pace tracks are pretty hard at times.

Giving a much needed breather for the evening, How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells slowed things down and gave a more heartfelt moment. With the band presenting a big jokey and more banter driven vibe, it really showed off the range in their sound and delivered yet another stand out moment. With such diversity its easy to see why the band are so rapidly growing in popularity, giving their fans the fast pace pop punk energy while also taking time to acknowledge more emo and sincere movements. This was once again shown off later on in the set with This Song is Called it’s Called What’s it Called. With a track that starts slow and steady before diving into a fast pace party of angst; giving you the best of what the band have to offer in one track.

Throughout their massive set list, the band delivered a perfect mixture of showcasing their new album in which the tour is support of, as well as throwing in a huge amount of older bangers.

The only down side of the evening being with so many tracks played back to back with little breaks, for a more casual listener of Hot Mulligan it can be difficult at times to tell things apart. While it’s impressive to cram almost 20 songs into a headline set, it takes away a little not knowing what you’re listening to so you can then go and add them to your favourites.

Despite this, the most obvious take away is Hot Mulligan are on the rise, and rapidly. We really hope its not too long before the American rockers grace the UK with another sell out tour. 7/10


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