2016 Review

While 2016 seems to have been hated for many reasons, musically we had a great time. Here's some of the highlights, quickly skimming over the year, with some of those things you'll never forget and some you might not remember!

January

At the beginning of the year, we had albums from Basement, Savages and Mystery Jets down as being THE albums of the month. Indeed, they were right up there with Savages and Mystery Jets both playing release shows at New Slang, and the UK dominated, with strong debuts from Milk Teeth and Roam, plus the return of Suede. But January will be remembered for the shock death of David Bowie and the outpouring of mourning and celebration which came immediately after. The surreal queue of people crying at 10am on The Next Day to pick up Blackstar is something that won't be forgotten for a while.

Albums of the month:

And because of the above, one of the lasting memories of January was our "Heroes" night at New Slang where the main room gave way to a night of just David Bowie songs. Surreal and brilliant. It's always great to have once-local guys Mystery Jets in town, and their two shows were always going to be a highlight for us. Savages put on one of the shows of the year, but the standout gig for us was probably Bloc Party at The Hippodrome as the band played "Banquet" for Banquet.

February

As we celebrated eleven years of Banquet as we know it, the soundtrack to the month was provided by The 1975 and Jack Garratt. After those two monstrous records, some of the biggest LPs for us in Feb were re-issues from David Bowie and from A Day To Remember. New music from Field Music and The Crookes were great additions. Meanwhile a promo to give free albums to junior doctors went viral and spread a wee bit of cheer in during a bad time.

Albums of the month:

The shortest month wasn't short of gigs. In-stores with Turin Brakes, Seafret, The King Blues, WACO, Light Years, Candy Hearts and Kevin Devine, Album release shows at New Slang with Jack Garratt, Coasts, Field Music and Walking on Cars. Plus one off gigs from White Denim, Tonight Alive and Astroid Boys.

March

Spring sprung a range of albums with debuts from Lapsley, Muncie Girls, Jungle Brown, Brian Fallon and returns fromm Iggy Pop, White Denim, Treetop Flyers, Slighshot Dakota, Hacktivist and Tonight Alive.

Albums of the month:

Muncie Girls, Jungle Brown, Treetop Flyers and Ducking Punches with Chris Palmer Williams all played the shop. Jeff Rosenstock, Great Cynics, Room 94 and Hang The Bastard at The Fighting cocks, and New Slangs with Lapsley and The Heavy. St Patrick's fell on a Thursday night which meant The Lagan hosted the party at New Slainte.

April

You should know by now that in our world April means Record Store Day. Another celebration of physical music and those who sell it to you. The queue at 7.45am was as healthy as always. We try to make the actual experience in the shop something away from an Argos collection point, so it does mean it takes a while to get into the shop, but once inside, again we saw smiling faces and full carrier bags. The online version of RSD takes place a week later, and again so so so much mail order left us. We vowed to have a new website by the time RSD17 came around. Despite the sheer influx of records around RSD, there were plenty of non-RSD releases too from Into It. Over It, Frightened Rabbit, Deftones, La Dispute, Pity Sex, Travis, PJ Harvey and Teleman.

In the middle of the busiest month of the year, Mike and jt again got to scrub up and go to the Music Week Awards. We were presented with the Best Independent Retailer award and again tried to use this as a platform to say why ALL independent shops are important.

Albums of the month:

With all the time and focus on Record Store Day the shows were a little more scarce in April, but there were sold out shows from Knuckle Puck and Letlive. Travis played an acoustic album release show at New Slang and we had instore visits from Modern Baseball, Black Peaks and As It Is.

May

As seems a regular occurrence, May provided some a-May-zing albums. Albums Of The Year from PUP, Catfish and The Bottlemen, Modern Baseball and Skepta were joined by new full-lengths from Kaytranada, Permanent Record and Band Of Skulls.

Albums of the month:

Real Friends chose to play Kingston on album release day, which meant we got them a party-cake. Less Than Jake FINALLY made their Kingston debut in one of the gigs of the year and there were also New Slang visits from Catfish and The Bottlemen, The Coral and Jake Bugg, who also did an all ages show. Lonely The Brave played a redux show at All Saints Church and there were varied in-stores with The Duke Spirit, Man Made, SWMRS, Clare Maguire, Waterparks and Bleached.

June

Few albums more anticipated this month than the return from Radiohead yet there were also great new albums from Letlive, Jake Bugg, Tom Odell and Augustines. Very notable debuts from Spring King and Trash Boat plus classic reissues from The Killers, The Horrors and loads of Radioheads! June was the month of the EU referendum. We had a quite serious debate in the shop about Brexit, and a very non-serious referendum results night at New Slang featuring Aaron Dimpleby. In the early part of the month we put Blink-182 on sale which saw a queue for tickets even bigger than the RSD queue.

Albums of the month:

June saw a really diverse set of gigs including the biggest show we've ever put on with two acoustic performances from Blink-182 at The Rose Theatre! There were two in-stores from the legendary Rick Astley, which lead to the almost as legendary picture of Jonnie and Rick doing Jaeger Bombs together, Of Mice & Men played the Hippodrome, and there were New Slang album release shows with Spring King and Band Of Skulls. Meet Me In St Louis played their first live gig in 8 years at The Fighting Cocks and let's not forget Augustines at All Saints Church, return shows from Gnarwolves, Tom Odell, Laura Stevenson and in-stores from Pinegrove, Trash Boat and Chris T-T.

July

Album Of The Year contenders for us in July were from Shura, BadBadNotGood, Blink-182, Biffy Clyro and Martha, but the album which DID pick top spot in our Albums Of The Year 2016 was also released in July. Michael Kiwanuka's number 1 album was a slow burner for some, but turned into our go-to cross-shop favourite. Descendents also put out a new album and covered our shop front, and Bear's Den and Bouncing Souls' returns were a delight.

Albums of the month:

A relatively quiet month for shows but not short of the good stuff! We had excellent New Slangs with Shura and Bear's Den (which including unplugging and playing a song acoustic in the crowd... in a nightclub. The Smith Street Band and Apologies, I Have None packed out the Fighting Cocks and Michael Kiwanuka played a lovely release show at All Saints Church! Don't forget a highlight of the New Slang year where the ball-run worked for the first time in a decade. We did a few away-from-the-norm events in July too, which included a song-writing workshop with Kate Nash at The Rose, and working a stall for Autism Rocks at Hammersmith Appollo.

August

The second Moose Blood album came out in August, which saw us have TWO colourways both sell out on pre-order. THE ska-punk album of the year came out from 2017 instore-ers The Interrupters, there was a shop and national number one from Blossoms, a stunning debut from Black Foxxes and returns from Giggs, De La Soul, Slow Club and Bayside.

Albums of the month:

August kicked off with a sweaty show from A Wilhelm Scream at The Fighting Cocks and shortly after a coming-of-age release show from Moose Blood at The Rose Theatre. We had some great New Slangs with Wild Beasts, Blossoms and Glass Animals and in-store visits from Slow Club, Japanese Breakfast, The Rifles and Giggs. The month ended with a lovely in-store and triumphant show from MewithoutYou where the gig was so hot Aaron took the crowd out on to Old London road to finish of the set acoustic!

September

September is traditionally the month where the big albums come out, after the summer-festival breaks. 2016 didn't disappoint with returns from Jamie T, Bastille, Touche Amore and Against Me! and there other special albums from St Paul And The Broken Bones, Apologies I Have None and a lavish Akala 3LP set. On the night we had a Cherry Pie And (damn fine) Coffee Evening for the Twin Peaks soundtrack release, our jt picked up the Indie Champion accolade at the AIM Awards. We renewed our sponsorship of (soon not to be) local football club Kingstonian FC. Our Exeter cousins at The Cavern suffered a fire which still sets them back to this day. We chucked whatever weight we have behind the campaign to Save Fabric.

Albums of the month:

We put on 23 gigs in September. In one of the busiest months of the year for us, it was also one of the best with Bastille, Jamie T and Slaves playing New Slang, Frank Iero playing in a church, and Twin Atlantic, Young Guns and Pup all returning to Kingston. But the biggest show of the month was, strangely, from Craig David who marked his new album with a gig at The Hippodrome. Early September is always penned for Kingston Carnival and again it was a privilege to be booking the music for the main stage for 2016. The Heatwave did a great job.

October

Some huge returns in October from Two Door Cinema Club, Jimmy Eat World, Green Day, Sum 41, NOFX, Dillinger Escape Plan and American Football. There were also Album Of The Year contenders from Jeff Rosenstock, Joyce Manor and Kate Tempest. We got hooked up from Vans which we can add to our sponsorship earlier in the year from Typhoo

Albums of the month:

Another busy month that saw New Slang celebrate it's 10th Birthday with Two Door Cinema Club. Another highlight of the year was at The Rose with two special acoustic sets from Biffy Clyro. Kaiser Chiefs played New Slang and an under 18s set just before and there were in-stores from Kevin Devine, Gavin James and Sorority Noise, and a show-of-the-year contender in Pinegrove at The FIghting Cocks.

November

Some great albums this month from Balance & Composure, Will Varley, The Cut Ups and of course three long time coming releases from Metallica, Busted and A Tribe Called Quest. Our third and fourth Banquet label releases came out in November by the way of The Cut Ups and Young Romance.

Albums of the month:

Two contrasting big shows for New Slang in November. The French dance-duo Justice and the you-could-hear-a-hand-dryer singer-songwriter Passenger. The biggest queue The Hippodrome has ever seen was due to Shawn Mendes, and there were plenty of in-stores from the likes of Alpines, Jaws (eventually), Will Varley, Young Romance and the timeless indie-rock-emo kings, Jimmy Eat World.

December

As the new releases inevitably slow down in the run up to Christmas, it was time to stack em high and sell em by the boxload when it came to records as Christmas presents. Christmas was the busiest it's ever been at Banquet. New to the store in December were the Fall Out Boy re-issues, a live album from Public Service Broadcasting, and the yearly political folk observations from Beans On Toast.

Albums of the month:

Fewer gigs as we approach the Christmas break, but we did take time to mark 18 years of our punk/emo night New Noise… by doing what any 18th birthday party should do; heading to Bacchus. Live shows from Busted to P Money and a great in-store from Courteeners before the evening show was abruptly ended by a thrown bottle.

The Year That Was

So there we have it. There's loads that hasn't made the cut, but we hope that brings back some memories. In 2016, by "official" definitions, Banquet became a medium-sized business and so no longer a small one. We're the same business we were before tho, and as such we thank you again for letting us do what we do. In December we ran down our albums of the year, in what was another great year for physical music, and vinyl especially.

We finally have the new website up and running, which has been a labour of love and of frustration from true BFFs of the shop Gary Ekins and Dave House. We hope you enjoy it and continue to benefit from the updates that are in place and are coming up.

We've said goodbye to Tom, Tom and Will, and welcomed Jez, Tim and Cameron in their place.

Let's have a look at some numbers.

With the shop open 362 days of the year, we've seen 1000s of happy faces and full carrier bags; we've shipped 50,000 mail orders to destinations from down the road to the other side of the world; we've put on 180 events in 12 spaces from number 1 artists to bands on their first 7" release, from our local cellar club to the prestigious 3-tiered theatre; we've been behind 125 club nights and have put out 4 releases on our own label.

The end of a year is always a good time for reflection. In a time when art and music are maybe more important than they've ever been, we'll be with you every step of your musical journey, and there's loads of shows being talked about for 2017.

We'll see out the New Year with New Slang at The Hippodrome and you're very welcome to join us there, with tickets to get into the club before 10pm only a fiver.

If you're not at Auld Slang Syne, then have a great evening and break, wherever you are, and we'll see you online or in the shop in the New Year.

thanks loads
jt