False Advertising photo by Max Pilley

False Advertising photo by Max Pilley


In the hidden attic of a side alley in the Northern Quarter, roughly a hundred people are assembled on this Friday night for something fairly special. There may be no marquee outside with a band’s name in neon letters – hell, there isn’t even a sign outside saying the name of the venue – but tonight two of the country’s best-kept secrets are playing, and enough people know about it to fill the room with a buzz.

Ilser are a trio from Newcastle – they describe themselves as Newcastle hillbillies on stage – and they have the assured confidence of a band who have recorded ten albums. Frontwoman Rachael Whittle is restrained and sultry, with the power to launch into scorching guitar frenzies at any moment, and is more than a little reminiscent of a young PJ Harvey. She is the perfect counterpoint to the crazed, Frank Black-style vocals and energy that emanate from drummer Scott Jeffery. New single ‘Strangers’ stands out in particular, and you can only hope that given time, Ilser will be a name on many more people’s lips than just the assembled crowd tonight.

And that leaves False Advertising. The Manchester-based band have been a mainstay on the local live music scene for a while, and after the release of their debut album last year, they can reasonably considered one of the best of Manchester’s class of 2016. They open with ‘Alopecia’, the lead track on their ‘Brainless’ EP that came out earlier in the year. It is as good an encapsulation of what they do best as you could get – quick, jittery, thrashy garage pop with an utterly addictive hook in the chorus to leave you needing more. False Advertising are certainly cool, but not too cool to be scared of writing a pop song.

They appear to be being filmed tonight by a fairly professional looking setup, perhaps for a video down the line some time. If so, the video will show three musicians in their element, playing tracks like ‘Breaker’ and ‘No Good’ with such instinctive energy and ease that you feel that you’ve known the songs for years. When frontwoman Jen Hingley and drummer Chris Warr swap places for five tracks in the middle of the set, as is their trademark, they are equally convincing. Being in a band comes naturally to False Advertising. Newer songs ‘Sigh’ and ‘Piece of My Mind’ still bounce with the same energy, but there is a newfound maturity – the latter in particular showing off a thicker, swampier guitar sound that suggests very interesting things for the second album.

Set closer ‘You’re Too Slow’ comes all too quickly for the Aatma crowd, who reject the band’s attempts to leave the stage. Instead, they demand one more, and moreover, it has to be ‘All of the Above’, from the debut album. The band are initially reluctant – they haven’t played that one on this tour – but the crowd aren’t taking no for an answer, and sure enough the night ends with a singalong. It’s a triumphant set, and for a band that plays around town as frequently as they do, you really have no excuse not to catch them soon. You really should.

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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.