Phobophobes are strangely fearless. As they take to the Eagle Inn tonight, they are ready to take on whatever this Friday night might throw at them, and in short order they have the Eagle Inn bouncing to their quirky, jagged indie psych nuggets.

They only just about manage to squeeze their six members onto what is admittedly one of Manchester’s (ok, Salford’s) most modestly sized stages, a balancing act made only harder when it turns out that none of them are in the business of standing still. But then, they’re used to this. This is the band, after all, that came into existence by sharing a rehearsal space with Fat White Family, of all bands. Nothing a gig like tonight’s can throw at them can destabilise them when they’ve grown up in that environment.

They come from one of the last discernible music ‘scenes’ in the UK, A South London hotbed that has thrown up a list of names over the last couple of years that can hold its own with any region in the world: in addition to the Fat Whites and their offshoots, one could include Goat Girl, HMLTD, Dream Wife and Dead Pretties, all fearsome and formidable outfits. Phobophobes are out of all of them the ones with perhaps the most acute sense of the past, mining a history of psych obscurities. Their affinity with rock folklore is best evidenced by the cover of their fizzing debut album, Miniature World, which features a petri dish filled with the festering bacteria that the band swabbed from the oldest microphone in Abbey Road studios. It is the most star studded album cover since Sgt. Pepper.

The night’s highest points inevitably arrive in the form of the band’s most noteworthy singles, notably the prowling, nocturnal, sinister ‘Where Is My Owner?’, which has everyone chanting, “I want to feel like I’m pretending” by its climax. Boppier and head-nodding-ier is ‘The Never Never’, already a modern lost psych pop gem that should already have launched Phobophobes to great international heights.

The set is best summed up near its end by ‘Free The Naked Rambler’, a strangely insidious, haunting song that is all the creepier when three or four Phobophobe voices start simultaneously singing its title. “It’s gonna be a shitshow/Will you marry me in a borrowed suit/With a borrowed attitude,” goes one of the verses, and I think you get the idea. It certainly isn’t hard to believe that they’ve spent so much time around the Fat Whites and The Moonlandingz. Here’s hoping Phobophobes will end up reaching a similar audience.

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Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.