Gig Review: Drowned in Sound 5th Birthday Party, Manchester Night & Day, October 2, 2005

Every year we tell ourselves we’re going to attend some of the In the City showcases, and every year we’re too busy. Seeing as we’d been to 3 (or 4, if you’re Ledge) gigs in a week, we only picked one day of shows. As the Night & Day tends to have pretty good bands, we figured we’d go for that. It wasn’t a bad choice, in the end.

I’d only heard of one band, Komakino, who were interesting enough at Leeds Festival to make me want to see them again. The rest were a mystery. We figured we’d skip the first couple of acts and get down a couple of hours after doors. Silly us. The music didn’t start until a couple of hours after doors. So we wandered in halfway through The Madelines. They are a pretty straightforward indie rock three piece who have some good tunes, but weren’t particularly original.

Next up came Action Plan, introduced by John Kennedy of XFM as one of the “next big things.” They played a particularly familar brand of noisy indie, somewhere in between rock and metal. It was unassuming, like the band themselves, and well-constructed I guess. It just didn’t excite me. The lead singer looked like a fat, scruffy version of Gaz Coombs as well.

Having looked at the lineup on the Drowned in Sound website, Ledge was very cynical about the next group, Folded Remediez who are a human beatbox duo from Manchester. It would seem they opened for Doves at the Apollo recently. I suppose we must have missed them. While I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy an album of 2 blokes making drum sounds with their mouths, it was interesting, and rather impressive, the range of sounds they create. The big finale involved inviting a singer all the way from Barcelona and a bassist on stage to recreate “Walk This Way” using just a vocalist, one instrument and 2 human beatboxes. If I hadn’t been watching it, I wouldn’t have noticed the lack of instruments. So, they are good at their craft. Expect them to start showing up soon as guests on loads of Hip Hop and Rap singles.

After the beatboxers came the first real gem of the day. Nephew looked very unassuming when they emerged onto the stage and proceeded to play a rather striking brand of folky, ballady pop complete with some lovely violins. It reminded me at times of both the Unebelievable Truth and Toad the Wet Sprocket. So it was sincere and poppy with undertones of folk and lots of acoustic drama. It was one of the more unusual sets of the day in that Nephew certainly seem to have their own style and while it’s not particularly trendy, it is definitely worth a closer listen.

We nearly left at this point to go get some food, but decided to hang around for Les Incompetents as Ledge had this idea they were a bit like Art Brut. I can see the comparisons as one of the 2 singers came across as a kind of hyperactive, less charismatic, desperately annoying version of Eddie Argos in shoes. They produced kind of wild pop songs with shouty vocals. I suspect that as we couldn’t understand a word of the lyrics we probably missed out on half the point. The annoying half of the singing twosome kept jumping off the stage, dragging loads of weird crap from under the tables into the crowd, including a vacuum cleaner, as the crowd backed further and further away. It was kind of funny. But in a sad, attention-seeking way.

I’m a bit sorry to say that we missed most of The Automatics, but got back into the venue in time to catch their last two songs. It was catchy and loud, much more I’m afraid I can’t say as we were too busy queuing at the bar. But I was tapping my foot along. Then it was time for the first band we’d been really interested in seeing, having played a track off their website earlier that morning. The Whip are a Mancunian band featuring an ex-member of Nylon Pylon who isn’t Stubbsy, also formerly of the Clint Boon Experience. They wear their roots on their sleeves as they don’t half sound like a New Order tribute act, with various songs sounding like “Ceremony,” “True Faith” and “Blue Monday.” They also at times sounded a bit like The Rapture and Depeche Mode. All of these things are pretty good in my book and their set was very entertaining with the songs being slightly repetitive lyrically but fairly memorable and very good for dancing.

Following The Whip came north-easterners Field Music who were kind of a slower, softer version of The Futureheads. Apparently they’ve been around long enough to have played In the City at a Liverpool venue, years ago. They were not very exciting live but they had a few decent songs, and Ledge seemed to enjoy them.

At this point I retired to the benches to rest my tired feet, in time to witness Redjetson who were far and away the highlight of the day. Falling somewhere between shoegazer and post-rock they created this luscious wall of guitar fuzz and noise and mesmerizing vocals. They only played 4 songs, which apparently was a truncated set, even though the songs all seemed to be around 8-10 minutes long. I was pretty much just lost somewhere in the middle of the effects and it was stupendous, even though I could only actually see one member of the band as there was a large pillar between me and the stage.

Local teen heroes Fear of Music came next and were what Action Plan wish they could be. With a singer that sounds a bit like Brian Molko, it was all sleazy metal-tinged rock and roll. Noise and riffs and some really impressive songwriting from what appeared to be a group of 15 year olds. Apparently they’ve been getting a bit of attention from the media and it’s pretty likely they will be one of the real finds of this year’s event.

Finally, after a stupid wait, came Komakino. I really wanted to like them because they named themselves after a Joy Division song. They put on a strong performance at Leeds Festival which made me think of Strangelove, Subcircus, Placebo and Muse at various moments. None of these bands are on my top ten list, but all do what they do very well. Unfortunately, I think I must have been delusional because all Komakino reminded me of this time was failed Manchester scenesters Marion. And they weren’t even as good. They were energetic and they had a clump of young girls squealing away for them, but alas, musically they were pretty uninspirational, just conjuring up the rockier side of the dregs of Britpop.

So, we slunk away before the encore, just as John Kennedy and some scruffy editor from Drowned in Sound began bleating into the microphone about being the saviours of indie rock and roll….

10 Responses to “Gig Review: Drowned in Sound 5th Birthday Party, Manchester Night & Day, October 2, 2005”

  • Tom Kerswill Says:

    I went to Night and Day on the Friday… was a bit disappointed to be honest. Everyone seemed to be trying a bit too hard…

    … The font bar and bedlam were both great venues over the weekend – hosting some interesting and fairly varied bands…. saw some really good stuff in the end!

  • Dr Action Says:

    A fat and scruffy Gaz Coombes?
    Straight for the heart.
    Or belly.

  • JustHipper Says:

    Sorry mate. Not trying to be cruel, but as the saying goes, “Say what you see.”

    Perhaps a review copy of a CD will help us reasess that first impression…. That’s admin at indiecredential dot com for the proper hate mail.

  • boris becker Says:

    How can you talk down the Drowned in Sound Editor like that? He’s the most popular and attractive guy I know!

  • carlos Says:

    Have to agree that Nephew were great. But as for the rest of this review, is RUBBISH!

    What sort of music DO you like?! I thought the bands were great. And Action Plan were brill, although he DOES look a little like Gaz.

    Sorry Dr Action.

  • JustHipper Says:

    Umm, to which review do you refer? I liked *most* of the bands. I said so. What more do you want, exactly? There’s only so much detail one can give in a short space about bands you’ve only seen once and while under the influence.

  • sar - nephew Says:

    Cheers for the review and that… and for thinking we were great, Carlos.
    I liked Action Plan too… I was upset that Les Incompetents didn’t have an incompetent lesbian in their line up though.
    E-mail me with an address and I’ll send you a demo CD if you like?

  • Sar - nephew Says:

    The last message didn’t seem to work? Oh well.. Cheers for the review, top stuff.

  • john music Says:

    i thought nephew were great. they didn’t have stupid hair cuts or tight jeans either.

  • The Indie Credential » Blog Archive » Gig Review: In the City, Manchester, Tuesday 7th October 2008 Says:

    […] for drinks at the bar. We first saw Light Syndicate back when they were still called Nephew at an In the City showcase way back in 2005. At the time I commented that they reminded me of Toad the Wet Sprocket because there was a folky […]

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