Review: Your City x Stoke-on-Trent BID 2024 – a Piccadilly Party like no other

For a hot minute, the thought that Your City may not have been able to go ahead this year was utterly devastating. The city centre festival has become a much-loved event and a crucial platform for local artists for the last six years, and a lack of funding threatened to slow the momentum of Stoke-on-Trent’s trajectory to shine light on the area’s hub of creative talent. But, in true Stoke-on-Trent style, if there is a will, there’s a way, with Your City organisers teaming up with Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID for a free one-day event that was anything but ‘scaled back’.

The early May bank Holiday weekend saw hundreds of music lovers flock to Hanley to catch a range of emerging artists and home grown talent, while introducing local audiences to some impressive out-of-towners. The event, now in it’s seventh year, took over four city centre grassroots venues for around 6 hours of non-stop talent. A total of 17 acts performed on stages at The Underground, The Sugarmill, Captain’s Bar and The Backyard – and with some meticulous planning, a Google spreadsheet, and my comfiest Dr Martens, I managed to catch a portion of every single act.

The sun beat down on The Backyard, which quickly grew full of early revellers to watch Natasha Birks open up the festival. The acoustic singer/songwriter shared a selection of her original tracks alongside a cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s Driver’s License, which is a track that suits her voice beautifully. She joked that many of her songs are ‘sad’, touching on themes of grief and heartbreak, adding that ‘she’s working on some happy songs’ – but spirits remained high as she finished on a cover of Taylor Swift to a full house. 

Natasha Birks

The venue then became a hotspot for steady beats and good vibes as LFE showcased his raw lyricism and unbelievable speed, bringing the energy levels even higher and getting the dancefloor filled, inviting his friend Mick to share the stage for a track, too. Luke has been spitting bars for over a decade now, recording his first freestyle in 2012, and during that time has used his unique style to establish himself as one of the most prominent figures in the local hiphop scene.The crowd hyped them as much as they did the crowd, and you could really feel a sense of community amid the colourful walls and disco ball reflections. 


Liverpool artist Miss Stylie brought her fearless attitude and bags of sass to the stage for an RnB-infused set, even performing a cover of Angie Stone’s iconic 2001 hit Wish I Didn’t Miss You. Her performance was one of The Leopheard’s highlights, with Scott Evans commenting: “Also although I enjoyed every act I saw yesterday I thought Miss Stylie was really good and she worked the audience so well”

Miss Stylie

Geth and Steph’s set followed, and it was standing room only by the stage. Blending Geth’s rap verses with Steph’s soulful harmonies, they captivated audiences with their energetic  stage presence and catchy hooks, moving sleekly through the setlist and keeping the audience grooving along for Pale Red.

Closing out the evening at The Backyard, young duo Pale Red brought a blend of old-school rap and ambient sounds, really showcasing the breadth of talent we have in this relatively small subsection of the local music scene. The lads recently released their single Empty Space, characterised by  crisp beats with punchy drums and atmospheric synths, which felt like the perfect way to enjoy the sun setting over the city with a cold can in hand.

Meanwhile, The Sugarmill buzzed with indie rock vibes as Brandon Grindey made his solo debut. The former frontman of The Crowns exuded star quality from the moment he stepped on stage. With a cool and collected demeanour reminiscent of Alex Turner, he effortlessly commanded the stage, executing a polished set of new material while working the stage, the audience and delivering an impressive vocal performance too. Of course Brandon’s no stranger to the stage, but he really poured his heart and soul into it. He’s got an undeniable charisma and the crowd hung on his every word – his cover of Blondie’s Call Me was brilliant, too.

Brandon Grindey

Speaking of covers, Barracuda also slipped a couple into their set, including Oasis’ Cigarettes and Alcohol, and Come on Feel The Noize, by Slade, which had the audience dancing and singing along. This four-piece alternative rock outfit has quickly made a name for themselves since their formation in 2022, and enjoyed their Your City debut last year, so it was great to see how much they’ve matured and really developed their own sound in those 12 short months. 


Sideeye followed with their indie/alternative flair, sharing their final gig with Cal Cartwright as guitarist before his departure – and what a send off for the lad. The band has been going through a lot of transformation since their name change from Smithpools, but seem to be having a lot of fun as they continue to experiment with new music. They injected a lot of humour and camaraderie into their set, and I’m very excited for these guys to hit us with some new recordings soon. 


Very much in a new era following their Technicolour Daydream album, even having gone to the lengths of having a pink neon sign commissioned for their backdrop (which is, I have to admit, pretty bloody cool), Finney is known for their elaborate live shows and genre-defying music style. The band has amassed a seriously loyal fan base, and it’s safe to say the four-piece took the stage by storm with their eclectic indie pop sound. They’ve spent the past year refining their sound and honing their craft, and it shows in their polished performance. We’ve already had two brand new tracks from the band this year, which proves they’re showing no signs of slowing down, and their YC performance only cemented their status as one of the area’s favourite musical exports.


The Underground venue pulsated with heavy riffs and intense energy, courtesy of acts like Foulplay, who set the tone for the Morley Street bar from the word go. This four-piece powerhouse wasted no time in establishing their presence, unleashing their brand of alt-metal fury upon the crowd. Birmingham’s Gnawing Hunger were also incredibly well-received, with the floor absolutely heaving as the crowd stomped along to their heavy and aggressive sound. I don’t think it will be long before they’re welcomed back with open arms.

Gnawing Hunger


With influences ranging from the ’90s rock scene to post-grunge, Mercury are a firm favourite among the scene, with their home shows being incredibly popular. Their set is visually fantastic to watch as each member thrashes their instrument of choice within an inch of its life for tracks like After from their Summer 23 release. The guitar work from Harvey is particularly spectacular, soaring over Ike and Dean’s driving rhythms and Jake Ward’s haunting vocal performance.


Black Coast’s headline set was nothing short of phenomenal. The nu-metal five piece took command of the stage with a torrent of thunderous drums, crushing riffs, and vocals dripping with intensity as they performed the home leg of their current tour. Each track was a visceral onslaught of sound, combining controlled chaos with relentless power, never once letting their foot off the gas. These guys continue to fly the flag for Stoke out of the area and have proven once again that they are absolute masters of their craft and a real force to be reckoned with.

Lee Barber added: “After the unfortunate unsuccessful funding application for this year’s Your City, many of us worried the event would be cancelled entirely for 2024, but we have been extremely lucky in that City Centre BID brought their A game on community spirit and became that embodiment of the saying the show must go on, and what a show it ended up being.

“Of course, I can only really speak of the event in the sense of being the manager of The Underground, with 95% of my time on May 4 being spent at the one venue. But every band on the bill turned up and more. Foulplay, ever the silent assassinators of local hardcore, seem almost quiet and reserved until the moment they enter the stage, and they transform entirely, and bring the venue to life with their raw energy and angst, while Birmingham based Gnawing Hunger do what they do best with local ledge Mark Shenton flying the flag and getting the crowd in the palm of his hands, as he always does so naturally.

“What do we say about Mercury, ay? A band that just goes from strength to strength without effort, each show more powerful than the last. Such a new band on the grand scheme of things and yet already they are heading towards the boss level of Stoke music. And when we speak of boss level Stoke music, there’s only one band that can top this bill, and didn’t they do just that? Black Coast turned up chill as ever, introduced me to Colter Wall, talked me through their new merch collection (it’s all sick) and then later took to the stage, destroyed it, and left the crowd begging for more. Black Coast are the band showing everyone how it’s done in 2024.”

At Captain’s Bar, a diverse range of sounds filled the venue’s back room, from Poppy Blond’s soulful melodies, dark beats and catchy hooks, supported by Danny Higgins on bass and Scott Evans on the guitar. The singer/songwriter is really coming into her own as a soloist, and while she’s always been enviably fierce, there’s something about the new Britney Spears-esque head mic that’s given her even more confidence and freedom in her stage presence as she performed her recently released singles 2 Hour Thoughts and Misty Blue Eyes.

Poppy Blond

Manchester’s Electric Cafe followed with an immersive set fusing music  with visual multimedia effects, with audience members being handed 3D glasses to get the full experience. They delivered an eclectic mix of electronic, alt-rock and shoegaze combined with mesmerising projections and was one of the most memorable sets from the day as a result. Shared System’s followed as the penultimate act for the day, with a selection of experimental electronic sounds and glitchy rhythms performed with meticulous intricacy to an audience ravenous for it.

Electric Cafe

Shared Systems

And finally, ending a huge day on an even bigger high, was multi-instrumentalist Foxa Riot, who performed an absolutely jam-packed set to a jam-packed Captain’s Bar while demonstrating just how many instruments and elements make up his infectiously catchy electro-pop records. Joined by Joe, for The Dread Lagoon on bass duties, Foxa Riot combined elements of funk, hip hop and electronica for a sweet sonic experience, including singles like Best Friend and the newly-released Feed The Dog. Watching him flit between his synth, tambourine, guitar and ukulele (among various other elements on stage) only deepened my respect for his artistry. This is true graft and it does not look easy to bring these tracks to life on stage, but Rhys does it with such finesse. Scott Evans added: “Foxa Riot performed what I think was his best gig to date to a packed out appreciative audience. His two new songs 1994 and great new single Feed The Dog went down really well. Having Joe Stingray on bass made such a difference in particular on the track Drag. Just an all round amazing gig from the Stoke legend.”

Overall, it was an absolutely brilliant day with immaculate vibes with heaving venues and phenomenal perfomances. Events like this are the lifeblood of the local scene and are vital in maintaining this thriving community Stoke is fostering in it’s creative scene, and Piccadilly Party was testament to that.

Foxa Riot

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