In The City - Day 1 - Manchester - various venues - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

In The City - Day 1 - Manchester - various venues

by Steve Rhodes Rating: Release Date:

Annual conference/live event In the City returns, this time focused on Manchester's vibrant Northern Quarter. Along with conference events, discussions and video previews, the main focus is the live side with hundreds of largely unknown bands, many of them unsigned and ploughing their trade in the many venues and bars of the Northern Quarter.

First up for me at a packed out Common Bar are local band Patterns. The guitars and pace are slow, the atmospherics are high, the vocals are echo-drenched and the melodies are sublime. Clearly influenced by Brooklyn and New York with their sound resembling a noisier Grizzly Bear or a restrained Interpol, Patterns are a welcome start and should be playing in venues far larger soon.

After a failed attempt to see Young British Artists at the Castle, a diversion is made to Mint Lounge, for The Kills Van Kulls. For a band compared to The Killers, they do little to dispel this association. An interesting collage of 80s keys, soulful vocals and a chiming guitar sound borrowed from U2 or Levitation, The Kill Van Kulls are a highly satisfying compendium of the 80s condensed into a whole. Standout track 'Lost and Found' should be projected to the soundtrack of a US TV Drama, so expect to hear them on your telly soon.

After a brief detour back to Common for the shambling and rather tuneless This Many Boyfriends, Factory Floor await me at The Ruby Lounge. The London three-piece are dark, devastating. and very affecting. Beginning with Logan's Run type electronic pulses, they add abrasive and often deafening shards of guitar and unconventional drumming in the mix. 'Vocalist' Nikki mixes the voice of Zola Jesus and Lydia Lunch with the aesthetics of the Manson Family. The nihilistic performance is enveloping, hypnotic and lasts long in the memory. Factory Floor would be the headliners at the closing ceremony of the apocalypse.

No Age at Night and Day are running very late, so it's a quick trip next door to Dry Live for Team Ghost. Guitarist and vocalist Nicolas Fromageau was previously one half of M83, which is clearly evident here with his new group revising the Dead Cities... era of his former band. Similar in style to Sennen, particularly with the often dual vocal, and The Butterfly Explosion, Team Ghost are a decent live act that deserve more than the spartan crowd that's here to see them. After the false starts, No Age turn out their usual Dinosaur Jr and Jay Reatard spouts of melody and noise, supported by Jesus and Mary Chain layered guitar fuzz. It's energetic and is savoured by the crowd but it is also strangely underwhelming.

Better is to be had at Soup Kitchen, where two-piece Brown Brogues create an enjoyably mental fuzz noise that is part The Fall and part Screaming Jay Hawkins. Shards of fuzzed guitar are perfectly supported by a drummer who beats the hell of out of his kit. Also good at Noho are fellow unsigned band Beaty Heart, an instrument-swapping four-piece that resemble Yeasayer on the cheap.

After having my hearing destroyed earlier by Factory Floor it's back to the Ruby Lounge to relax for Still Corners. Mixing the same summery dreaminess and 60s glamour as St Ettienne, with the vocals of Mazzy Star, Beach House or Lanterns on the Lake, along with ample effects-driven guitar and subtle piano, Still Corners are the perfect end to the evening.

Photo of Factory Floor at the Ruby Lounge, kindly provided by Magnus Aske Blikeng -

Comments (1)

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I too was disappointed with No Age, they are much better on record. Factory Floor on the other hand were brilliant.

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