High Places


I’m not usually one for forward planning but I felt quite gutted that I couldn’t go to the SAVAGES gig at the beginning of the month due to it being sold out (how does a few months old, pretty unknown, four piece all female band sell out in a city they’re not even from?) so I put my name down for tonight’s gig there and then, an actual month in advance!  I heard rumours this gig has sold out too.  There seems to be rather a lot of excitement surrounding this band at the moment and the Guardian did a nice piece on them naming them New Band of the Day.

Islington Mill is a cool little venue with remnants of its industrial past dressed up with pretty fairy lights and a lot of smoke/dry ice illuminated by stage lights and lasers.  I like the toilets where writing is scrawled all over the walls and the toilet roll is attached to the wall with a metal chain.

DIE HEXEN, a Manchester based duo, describe their tracks on Soundcloud as ‘gothpoptronica’ and ‘witchhouse’ are first for our listening pleasure.  The singer and floor tom basher is dressed in black with a lace eye mask and the machinist in white and backed by aesthetically pleasing and abstract visuals.  There’s something about the beat and synths that seems quite 80s, although I’m not sure that’s what they’re going for and the music is too unstructured and the mood too dramatic to be 80s.  They sound something like The Knife but with huskier, deeper vocals.  I want to hear her real voice without the effects!

With a loud intro, HIGH PLACES, another duo, based in LA but originally from New York, take the stage.  It’s very dancey electronic music with beautiful vocals courtesy of Mary Pearson.  These guys ooze cool.  The irresistible, heavy, shakey beats teamed with the infectious melodies make your feet start dancing and your hands want to wave around and make you look like a loon.  I feel that this would be better music for dancing to than watching, but that’s not to say that High Places aren’t interesting to watch.  In fact, they seem really into it and sweat patches begin to emerge on Robert Barber’s t-shirt which fascinatingly take the shape of a face!  Like one of those Jesus on the toast moments!

I go to check out their records afterwards intending to purchase one (until I realise that the money I thought I had was spent this morning on my bus ticket to get to stupid work) and he explains that this happens a lot; friendly offensive odours he calls them.  Steve says he thinks it looks like a Monster Munch face and we discuss UK Vs US snacks.  Barber is friendly, saying it’s a great venue and chats about the tour and his records, explaining the artwork on their records, which is their own.  They make good videos too!

After such a good performance from High Places I have concerns as I often find it’s hard to get into ‘band’ music following a good electronic set, but Savages grungey, post-punk set is in no way overshadowed, despite High Places’ strong performance.  I want to be Savages!  These guys are ridiculously awesome.  They seem to draw from all of my favourite bands, such as Pixies, Sonic Youth, The Organ, Queens of the Stone Age, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, perhaps even moments of Interpol and Dead Meadow.  With thrashy guitars, punky riffs, prominent, heavy bass lines (to die for for a wannabe bassist), and a see-through drum kit they put a lot of energy into their performance whilst at the same time managing to look and sound extremely cool.

They come across as being really into what they’re doing and play with a lot of passion.  They’re not the posey, flaunt your sexuality types, they seem serious about what they’re doing and they do it very, very well.  Quite simply the best band I’ve seen all year, in fact, the best band I’ve seen in a long time.  I am not alone in this opinion.  The crowd shout for an encore and whilst running for the bus home the general mood is stunned by how good they are.  Even the boyfriend (who has a tendency to be a bit of a nob; judging bands harshly) is wowed by Savages.  There is the feeling of good things to come in the world.  Definitely go and see them!

(hear Savages ‘Flying To Berlin’ here)

Louise Fletcher

Originally from Bristol, I emigrated to The North after studying Sociology at Exeter University. In my opinion the Manchester music scene is pretty unbeatable and very inspiring! It even encouraged me to start a band! Long live the live music scene!