Genius of the Crowd highlight homeless crisis in harrowing hit Sleeping Bags and Concrete Floors

Genius of the Crowd are a band unafraid to hold the microscope up to social and political issues, and navigate them through anarchic, gritty lyrics and emotion-fuelled riffs. From the NHS cuts of I Won’t, to the wealth gap and Tory government in Not The Problem. Now, the Stoke-based four-piece are shining a light on the city’s poverty crisis and rough sleepers in their latest single – Sleeping Bags and Concrete Floors.

It’s no secret that Stoke-on-Trent has more than its fair share of poverty, with the 2022-2023 period seeing 1,547 households reaching out to the city council for an assessment and support in 2022-2023 – an 11 per cent rise on the previous year. As such, it’s not uncommon to walk up through any of the six towns and be asked for spare change, or to see a makeshift bed assembled from cardboard boxes in the doorways of boarded up shops.  

Genius of the Crowd say this latest record is for them. They told The Leopheard: “This song is for the homeless man who buys food for his dog before buying food for himself. It’s for the woman in the sleeping bag sitting outside the cinema begging for just enough money to sleep in a motel room for the night. 

“It’s for the woman who had nothing but a blanket, trying to save enough money to get back to her son. It’s for the mother and children who have just been evicted from their home and don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight. It’s for the kids who have to sell drugs just to make sure they can support their parents to pay the bills. 

“It’s for the man whose only way to get through the pain is to drink himself to sleep at night. It’s for those whose only comfort is the stars at night. It’s for those in shelters, under the bridges, in doorways of abandoned shops, in car parks, in tents on the side of the road.”

Upbeat guitars that nod to the 90s indie Britpop era echoing the likes of Shed Seven introduce the track, its cheery disposition quickly juxtaposed by harrowing first person lyrics that when they hit – hit hard. It’s a chilling account of life on the streets that serves as a stark reminder of the daily struggles faced by countless people in our community.

The combination of Matt Frederick’s evocative vocals, Jack Baker’s dynamic lead guitar, and the solid rhythm section comprising Matt White, Sam Galway, and Dave Smith really captures the raw emotion of the track – and it’s evident from their back catalogue that this is a band who is passionate about making a change, and speaking out for those who may not necessarily be able to do so themselves. 

There are some beautiful anthemic moments in the chorus where Matt asks ‘How long does it take to help a soul?’, followed by an exemplary guitar solo that provides a moment of reflection on the thought-provoking narrative. 

This song is for those who believe that they are not just a few unfortunate circumstances away from being just the same as them,” Genius of the Crowd added. “This song is about understanding, without judgement or prejudice. It’s for those who are willing to offer a helping hand to those in need.

I previously described the band’s debut I Won’t as a ‘promising manifesto of what’s to come’ – and the boys are making good on their word. Four singles in six months and they’re fast becoming one of Staffordshire’s boldest and unapologetic bands.

Sleeping Bags and Concrete Floors offers a poignant commentary on homelessness and serves as a powerful call for empathy and social change. Released February 2, 2024, give it a listen here: 

 

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