The curtain may have only just fallen on Hidden Herd Festival 2018, but hot on its heels comes another scorching south coast show. Tonight, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar swings open its doors for yet another lineup of stellar new sounds as Hidden Herd Presents: Saltwater Sun, and a strong turnout floods the venue in anticipation of supercharged guitar lines and starry refrains.

First to the plate are skyrocketing Brighton band Lacuna Bloome, who channel Britpop’s finest with their energy, exuberance and killer knack for a gigantic chorus. Each of their releases to date have been greeted by snowballing hype, and it’s easy to see why when they drop them live; latest single ‘I Am’ and its predecessor ‘Alright’ are the sort of anthemic guitar-pop stonkers that would make Miles Kane grit his teeth with envy.

With a style different entirely, but equally deserving of plaudits aplenty, Circe – AKA Alexa Povey – creates a mystical and otherworldly atmosphere with her astral electro-pop. The London resident and her band make for a transfixing live experience, with ethereal vocals, nocturnal soundscapes and brooding synth bass taking the packed out room to another galaxy. Highlights ‘Under My Skin’ and ‘Blood and Wine’ find a magical middle ground between Cigarettes After Sex and Goldfrapp, with the latter’s echoey hooks and emotive climax leaving a lump in the throat.

Taking the levels up a few notches to wall-shuddering volume, Thyla once again prove themselves to be among the UK’s finest emerging indie acts, whipping up a whirlwind of euphoric new wavey anthems. The Brighton foursome get better and better, and tonight’s newer offerings reach the same dizzying heights as those that preceded them. In particular, their forthcoming EP’s mesmerising lead single ‘Candy’ is a real treat – the most celestial Cocteau Twins-ish thing they’ve done since favourite ‘Ferris Wheels’, which made Hidden Herd’s Tracks of the Year 2017.

Speaking of year-defining songs, this evening’s headliners Saltwater Sun have unleashed two ray-soaked shoo-ins in 2018 already (‘The Wire’, ‘Hot Mess’). The Reading quintet bring both tenacious singles, along with a host of other shimmering rock stormers, on the road for their first ever UK headline tour and it makes for an exhilarating sonic experience throughout. Explosive riffs, rousing harmonies and stratospheric melodies combine during their Brighton date, with frontwoman Jen Stearnes delivering one fiery vocal performance after another to the ecstasy of the bustling Sticky Mike’s basement. As if anyone needed any further convincing, Saltwater Sun‘s thunderous closers are skyscraping calls to arms that are dispatched with venom; it’s an emphatic finale that’ll stick long in the memory.

Join us for our next Brighton show, Hidden Herd Presents: CHILDCARE – with support from Lazy Day, Blushes and Youth Sector – on Saturday 20th October at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. Tickets available via DICE.