Friday’s gig-going saw one hapless Mancunian scruff transition from flummoxed faulty-oven sort-of-repair man to cheerful possessor of a clutch of great new bands to recommend to people in the space of a few hours.

Promoters Fat Plastic can always be relied upon to provide a lineup which combines a crop of quality local acts as well as talent from further afield, and what was in store at Gullivers on April 28 was no different.

Arriving late due to the aforementioned kitchen disaster (who knew such appliances could allow something to steadfastly refuse to defrost for so long?), I only got to see the tail-end of opening act Runah. This was a disappointment, as it was not the first time I have been told that I have to see her. Nevertheless, what I did see was a performance that filled the stage with ease, and the excellent mixing that benefited the whole night ensured her vocals and lyrics – a central part of her music – were at the forefront. Don’t be daft like I was, and make sure you see her whole set next time she plays.

Following Runah was Diving Station: a band of RNCM students playing what they describe as ‘harp-driven’ rock music. They were fantastic; complex arrangements that really benefited from the unusual addition of the harp, which featured as the bedrock between some really inventive interplay between melodic bass and guitar patterns. Vocalist and harpist Anna McLuckie’s leads are a real treat, and the harmonies between her and drummer and vocalist Barnabus Kimberley are faultless.

At their loudest, Diving Station can really fill a room, and their ability to move between these full-band moments and quiet periods where the harp leads the way is one of the band’s greatest strengths. Diving Station’s sound is without doubt original. At one point they say that they don’t really plan their set lists. If that is the case, then they are really good at intuitively figuring out which songs sound best next to each other. Having bought their EP Alice, I can vouch for the fact that the same skill when it comes to knowing which of their songs sound best next to each other is present there too.

Lavender were next, and you could pretty much tell what they were going to sound like as soon as you saw their backdrop. Psychedelic visuals lay the groundwork for psychedelic sounds, and the three vocalists did a solid job of making sure charisma was not lacking.

With sounds that referenced Brain Jonestown Massacre and Night Beats, the real enjoyment comes when the band jam on instrumental riffs, and the tight rhythm section that allows this to happen are perhaps most worthy of credit for this.

Indian Queens

Headliners Indian Queens were the only band I knew anything about before I got to Gullivers, and the recent Bella Union signees were ferocious, as was to be expected. For a three piece, their sound is massive, and the sisters Jennifer and Katherine O’Neal are really great to watch. Drummer Mat really knows how to use a mix of electronic and standard drums to effect, which lends the music a dynamism and variety not always achieved by a band limited to three instruments.

Both Jennifer and Katherine dominate the stage, giving the audience plenty to focus on, and the set is delivered without much audience interaction. It’s not needed. What’s nice about this gig is that, despite it being a four-act bill, and the last act are on after ten, the audience seems to have stuck around and even swollen over time. Single ‘Us Against The World’ is typically well received, but the consistency of the Hackney Wick band’s set bodes well for the future, when they will no doubt release an album on their new label.

All in all this was a great evening with lots of new music to experience. Keep an eye out for any of the bands playing in the Manchester area in the future.

Indian Queens: OfficialFacebook 

Lavender: Facebook | Twitter

Diving Station: Facebook | Twitter

Runah: Facebook | Twitter

Lloyd Bent

Manchester born radio-dabbler who burrows away under record and book collections whenever possible. Has interest in an eclectic variety of music, perhaps most significantly funk, post-punk and the more underground indie. Harbors ambitions to be a full-time writer, currently studies at Uni, works as a radio DJ and runs Indie DJ nights in the bars every now and again. Plays and attends gigs all over the place, but preferably in Manchester where independent venues are both commonly found and reliably fantastic.