So, I know this is a bit late. The problem was not so much lack of motivation or even lack of time as it was not quite knowing what to say. Even The Ledge firmly thinks I’m out of my mind about this gig.
In any case, it all started off promisingly enough. We arrived early so we would be certain to catch The Bangs, who we very much enjoyed at Sacred Trinity Church back in February. They pretty much tick every one of our music-loving boxes being a female-fronted indie band whose influences are clearly PJ Harvey, The Breeders, Elastica, Sonic Youth, Helium, etc. They sound like they sprung fully formed from 1991 rather than walking the “indie” standard line of trying to sound like The Libertines or Oasis. They sound fabulous and they look the part too. If they’re not on stage at ATP in a couple of years time performing in front of a drooling cult following of hundreds of pale-faced indie boys in Yo La Tengo T-shirts and gushing music journalists I’ll be very disappointed. They played a blinder, the two female leads swapping bass and guitar back and forth, looking intent and not bothering us with loads of forced, between-song banter. But hey, if you’ve got the songs, you don’t need to ply the crowd with chatter, trying to get them on-side.
The crowd had swelled considerably by the time The Answering Machine took the stage. It has been a while since we’ve seen them play – I can’t work it out even looking through our archives – although we do keep seeing them, most notably eating in Barburrito a few months back and queuing for beer at a Death Cab for Cutie gig a few weeks ago. We had not seen them perform since they added a drummer and we were looking forward to it. The drummer has certainly added a lot to their sound and their stage presence. The songs sound fuller and louder even if they haven’t moved on musically very much in the last couple of years. They still sound like a chirpy, British version of The Strokes’ first album. This is not to say that they were not as enjoyable as ever – they were – I just fear that perhaps they’ve missed their window. Too many bands with similar influences have come and gone at this point and it may be a case of evolve or die. I am surprised they haven’t had a hit single by now, but I suspect that if they haven’t they may not. I seriously hope I’m wrong because I think they’re fab.
And then we came to Those Dancing Days. Now The Ledge had sold me on this gig by telling me they sounded like an old Sarah Records band, playing lo-fi, girlie indie pop. I’d heard about half a song and it sounded pretty good. They certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage and the crowd around me seemed to like it, but frankly, I was bored witless. To be fair, I was suffering from that sound problem where if you stand too close to the stage you can’t hear very well, but as a result it sounded like one long perky pop song. And that one long song was not as charmingly lo-fi as I’d expected. I could have done with the pace changing. Now, I can’t fault the band’s energy – they were throwing themselves into things – but I was just ready to leave after about 10 minutes. I’m not even sure that I wouldn’t enjoy them on record, but on stage, with poor sound, there was nothing particularly attention-grabbing, unexpected or exciting about what I was watching. It’s a pity cause The Ledge hasn’t stopped saying how much he enjoyed it (but he is a guy and he was watching a bunch of young, pretty ladies in skirts playing guitars – he likes that sort of thing – if Kim Deal had been on the stage he’d have been in indie-boy heaven) so I feel like I possibly should have liked it more. But I didn’t. Oh well.
File under Gig Reviews, manchester gigs, mp3, roadhouse, the answering machine, the bangs, those dancing days.