English Teacher perform their debut album in full

In the queue for Rescue Rooms, I heard people murmuring with shock that this gig hadn’t been upgraded to a bigger venue, such as Rock City, which is right around the corner. But there’s no energy like a sold out show, and Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms provided a bustling space which was packed to the brim with fans eager to hear English Teacher’s acclaimed debut album This Could Be Texas in a live setting. 

And if this was their wish, then English Teacher granted it, with the set list comprising of only album tracks and none from their previous EP. In fact, the set list included all 13 tracks on the album, re-ordered to suit the live setting. Since the album has been their biggest success to date, this seemed like a logical decision from the band to focus on their most recent, and successful, material.

But first came Scarborough’s Pleasure Centre. Being admittedly unfamiliar with the band prior to their reveal as support act, it soon became clear why the shoegaze outfit had been chosen to accompany English Teacher on tour. It was inspiring to see that both bands who were taking to the stage are fronted by women of colour – something that lead singer, Aneela Siddiqui, chose to highlight during the set. 

While some of the artists with the biggest platforms in the world have stayed silent, and rightly received much criticism for it, Pleasure Centre used the audience who stood in front of them as an opportunity to raise awareness for the ongoing conflict in Palestine, dedicating a song to the people who are mercilessly losing their lives. Their fearlessness, and willingness to speak up and speak out on behalf of those suffering is admirable, and increasingly important today, more than ever before. 

This very point takes us to the track ‘Broken Biscuits’, which English Teacher performed towards the start of their set. It saw Lily Fontaine take to the keyboard at the back of the stage, as she metaphorically sang about the brokenness of the country we are living in, comparing it to the broken biscuits that are the song’s namesake. Much like Pleasure Centre, English Teacher have a strong and compelling voice, which they aren’t afraid to use to tackle uncomfortable topics that can often be shied away from. 

Maintaining the rough-around-the-edges charm that every grassroots gig should have, the band still managed to appear polished in their approach, not only in terms of their performance, but also the staging and lighting within the venue. For the track ‘Not Everybody Gets To Go To Space’, the stage was given a dark, grey effect, with smoke whirling around the band members, almost giving the appearance that they themselves were in space while performing. 

Earlier on in the evening came ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’ which opened the set – a bold choice, deciding to open the set with their biggest and most popular track. Such a track would often be saved for the encore, but here, it serves to start proceedings off on an electrifying and captivating, if not hard to follow, note. 

Speaking of the encore, the track ‘R&B’ appeared towards the end of the set, as the first of three encore tracks. The track is a stand-out on the album, as well as in this set, thanks to Lily Fontaine’s clever and thought-provoking lyrics which acknowledge racism within the music industry. It is followed closely by ‘Albert Road’ and a surprise cover of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’ right at the end.

Though I’m sure any fans from their early days wouldn’t have minded hearing some songs from Polyawkward in the mix, too, no one can blame them for sticking to This Could Be Texas, which is no doubt their best work to date. It’s no surprise to see dates selling out on this tour, as their rise to the top 10 of the UK charts signals a positive step forward for the grassroots music scene.

But where will they go next? Bigger venues, without a doubt. In terms of other factors, it’s hard to predict, and that’s what makes English Teacher so exciting – if they experimented so broadly on This Could Be Texas (their debut, mind you), then they may very well be a band whose potential to experiment is limitless. One guarantee is that their future will be fuelled by passion, creativity, and conviction.

English Teacher performed at Rescue Rooms on 28th May 2024. 

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