If you spend lots of time looking through blogs in search of a new artist to pin your hopes on, it’s likely you’ll have come across Demo Taped on your travels. If you haven’t had such luck though, Demo Taped is an 18-year-old artist from Atlanta making music that often crosses genres, with touchstones of Hudson Mohawke, Jai Paul and Mura Masa making for an interesting if, at times, challenging listen.

Demo Taped is supporting Nao tonight, who claimed third place on the BBC Sound of 2016 and could be cast as a fun FKA Twigs, making electro-funk without the seduction and tense pauses inherent to Twigs’ music. A sign of Nao’s increasing popularity is that tonight was originally meant to be held at The Deaf Institute but received an upgrade to Gorilla, even managing to sell this much bigger venue out.

Instead of skulking on stage in the style of most support acts about to play to a crowd largely unfamiliar with their music, Demo Taped walks on stage with intent shouting ‘Hello Manchester, what’s up?’ not unlike a boxing announcer naming tonight’s two competitors. Presiding just over decks and a microphone, Demo Taped shows no lack of confidence again when he tries to start a communal handclap during his second song, not really caring whether the crowd join in. Demo Taped is having a party tonight and we’re just observers to it.

Support acts are often embroiled in a battle to drown out crowd chatter. Becoming victorious in such a clash means that you have won the crowds attention, and tonight’s first break which reveals nothing but silence initially before a huge round of applause from the audience reveals Demo Taped’s early success. While his music, which up to now has diverged between synths, breakbeats and soul-like vocals, has been a big part of this, his charisma has been just as important in winning the crowd over as his enthusiasm shines brightly.

A remix of fellow blog-favourites Wet follows this moment, and while it is definitely the first remix I’ve ever heard in a support set, its Baauer-like drops and warped vocals fit the club venue that Gorilla is; it might have been less suitable in say, The Ritz. ‘I Luv U’ opens with vocals not unlike those of Laurie Anderson in ‘O Superman’ and has a lovely synth pattern at its heart. ‘Open Arms’, the next song, saw Demo Taped join with electronic and R&B duo RKCB but what is an ethereal silky song becomes a disappointment tonight due to the lack of any live vocal.

A song about anxiety and depression, which in the past would have prevented Demo Taped from playing somewhere like Manchester or even leaving his home city of Atlanta, ‘Game On’ closes the set. His first single, this draws singalongs from most of the crowd and this set closer is cathartic signalling Demo Taped’s victory over his once ill mental health. An energetic and engaging opening to the evening that lays out the carpet perfectly for the arrival of Nao.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.