The Goa Express


Saintts: The evening opens with what sounds like a badly-maintained theme park ride (a selection of cymbals precariously strapped on in addition) acting as the beat, while its more subdued rhythm partner watches on in despair as the guitar repeatedly bashes their circuitry into increasingly questionable territory. And of course, the vocals have the appropriate aggression (moderate rasp?) warranted by such instrumental malevolence.

The misadventure persists into a zone I’ve decided to name here as disorientgaze (kindly realised by a pedal board that seems to resemble a miniature, Philip K. Dick-esque dystopian city, thankfully lacking the quasi-fascist loudspeakers), neo-Sabbath climaxes, and what could very well be the perfect soundtrack to jumping a taxi under the influence. And throughout it all… could Brant Bjork have a long lost, Doncaster-based son?

Gardenback: Next on the sonic convey belt comes this intriguing 2-vocal band; complete with basslines that I seem to envision as a groove-laden drunk that refuses to leave past closing time, drumming that could imply its O.K to K.O broken glass bottles and a geetar (intentional) that captures everything you’d like to know about garage rock.

They display a new song (I Feel Shame?), with its excessive cymbal clattering all but ensuring that a Green River reunion for the specific case of composing a Wacky Races fanfic theme tune could… and should be realised. The venturing into an almost Zeppelin-like wave combined with encouragement to ‘sway’ while the two singers frequent a back and forth approach would certainly attract concern from the more claustrophobic gig-goer; alas there were no such individuals present, so all good.

The Goa Express: The headliners emerge, with an up-tempo opener, its pseudo-thrash (fear not, it’s not actually thrash) display keeping the momentum (kindly constructed by their predecessors) firmly in place, with no leeway for faltering in permittance. The boastful guitars and synthesiser seem to almost channel a caffeine-induced energy source lost in a darkened maze, of which the bass acts as the metaphorical lantern needed for articulating this quirky exuberance into the sound the audience hears. The drums throughout the set act as the underdog that on whim forces its way to the surface at the appropriate time, connecting the musical dots into this crazed propulsion that would perfectly compliment a joyriding soundtrack (not a drink and drive endorsement). The vocals, with the bright tone employed, convey a sense of youthful naiveté, while at the same time acting as an intermediary between the spectator and instrumentalism. In addition, the use of several backing vocals really adds the right touch of a psychedelic pop element (thankfully not resembling Strawberry Alarm Clock) to the portrait, even utilizing a sort of call-and-response type deal that sadly appears to be an infrequence in today’s music scene.

And as appropriate, the closing number manages to serve out a climax with both taste and precision, along with the way the synth lingers at the end… like a maimed… radio transmitter? Well whatever it was, the ride on the high speed, slightly miniaturised train is over; remember to collect your belongings and refrain from stepping on the personal vegetables. In closing, the material varying from their recently released EP debut to even a newly materialised composition demonstrates a band in a healthy state of evolution, an encouraging sight that will no doubt add much welcomed depth to Manchester’s varied, monolithic scene.

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Angus Rolland

Recent career decisions have compelled me into the journalistic... thing; I could list my literary influences or even debate which 3rd rate beverage has the best economic value per litre (But I won’t). Oh, in addition, I write reviews for the Independents Network.