In a tragic car accident in Sweden, the Warrington, UK group Viola Beach and their manager, Craig Tarry–who also shared management duties for the London-based Hidden Charms–perished in the hours before dawn on Saturday, February 13. On the evening of February 12, Viola Beach played their first gig outside of the UK to a crowded venue, despite inclement weather, at the Where’s The Music Festival in Norrköping, Sweden, approximately 160 km southwest of Stockholm. Viola Beach was scheduled to support Blossoms, along with The Vryll Society at The Boileroom in Guildford, UK on the evening of February 13. A cancellation was announced by the venue early in the evening, GMT, on Twitter.
Since their formation in May of 2015 and the August 28, 2015 release of Swings & Waterslides, a jaunty, catchy, summery tune, Viola Beach had accumulated a number of success stories. These included radio play on BBC1; ongoing support from BBC Introducing including a festival appearance at Reading & Leeds in 2015; a Maida Vale session; a supporting slot for The Courteeners; and upcoming plans to play a showcase at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March. The band’s most recent single, Boys That Sing had also been extremely well received, securing radio play and well over 100,000 plays on SoundCloud and Spotify. Communion Records selected the song as its first ever Communion Singles Club release on 7” vinyl.
The lads from Warrington were scheduled to play their first ever home-town head-liner at the Warrington Pyramid on March 12, 2016, just prior to crossing the pond to SXSW. The Warrington show sold out quickly and a second show in a larger venue was added as far out as October 2016. Sadly, the band will never experience those exhilarating moments of home-town heroes triumph, earned through relentless touring and hard work. Band manager Craig Tarry, also a Warrington native, was keen to instil a strong work ethic in the bands he managed. In an interview conducted with him last year while profiling Hidden Charms, Tarry said of touring:
“It’s not for the faint-hearted. You’ve got to really dive deep into how much you want to be a musician.” Tarry further elaborated that he told artists he works with that, “It doesn’t matter if it’s just me standing there with three other guys in the room. You’ve got to play every gig like you’re playing Wembley Stadium.”
This is how the band lived and played before their time was cut short, in the course of doing what they loved: touring.
Viola Beach–Kris Leonard (guitar/vocals), River Reeves (guitar), Tomas Lowe (bass), Jack Dakin (drums)–and their manager Craig Tarry seemed well on their way to becoming a major presence on the British music scene and beyond. The outpouring of sympathy and shock on social media underscores that the band and their music will be deeply missed and mourned. XS Noize wishes to express deepest condolences to family and friends of these five talented young men whose future held such promise.