It’s unusual for the lingering impression you are left with from a gig by a three-piece in a small music hall to be regarding the light and smoke settings. Entering the Deaf Institute tonight you are hit initially by the smell and then the choking intensity of synthetic smoke which makes it feel like you’ve personally sucked it out of the machine. I’m always sceptical of the idea that some false fog can enhance any musical performance but as Omni strike up into ‘Afterlife’ it becomes apparent that my chest complaints had been borne for good reason.

Throughout the performance Omni flit between two very distinct styles that are matched by the corresponding light settings. The moments of cheerful irreverence in Philip Frobos’ lyrics and his tight yet pulsing basslines combined with the intricate melodies of Frankie Broyles’ guitar are accordingly lit in basic block colour with a clear vision of all three band members. This is Omni in their distilled essence, most clearly exemplified in the tracks from Deluxe that are interwoven with material from new album Multi-Task even-handedly. Alongside this we are given new material including ‘Sunset Preacher’ and ‘Delicacy’ with some as-yet unreleased tunes. Despite Frobos’ repeatedly stating that the band take a relaxed view to songwriting and attempt to record as quickly as possible, you would be forgiven for not believing him as the music’s intensely structured quality would seem at odds with a speedy conception. As set-lists go, this one is a very representative sample of the bands output, providing the singles from the albums alongside some more choice cuts like ‘Jungle Jenny’ and a cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Manic Mechanic’ which plots a sphere of influence way outside the one I was internally drawing whilst watching them play.

These tracks all translate well to the live setting with the band as tight as they sound on record, but the most interesting moments come when Frobos relinquishes the microphone and the band enters into a kind of wig-out psychedelia where the bass and drums drive the track whilst Broyles is free to play around on his fretboard and provide some complimentary licks. At these points the smoke intensifies and, as I was searching for where my next breath would come from, the band become almost invisible, submerged in a haze that is permeated by a deep purple or blue. To my ear these sound like divergences from the recorded material but they add a huge amount to the songs. Live drummer Chris Yonker may not be a permanent fixture in the band but his talent behind the kit is undisputed on the strength of his contributions to these instances. The sheer force of the drumming allows the bass and guitar to depart from their normally frantic interconnectivity to become more rhythmically focussed, a different mode from the core of Omni’s songs but one that they are clearly very competent purveyors of.

This repeated nod to the light show may be deceptive as it is the sheer talent of the band and the quality of their music that makes these lights shine. The ability of Frobos to play basslines of such melodic quality alongside delivering dead pan conversational lyrics is an impressive spectacle and Broyles’ control of the guitar, playing chords with melodic flourishes on top of them often simultaneously, is a testament to his skill as a guitarist. He flirts with both rhythm and lead throughout and never misses a beat, which is consistently kept up behind him by Yonker’s technically flavoured but never obtuse drum lines.

The apparent division in musical styles on display by Omni could make it seem like they are a band of a Jekyll and Hyde nature, with their pounding, rhythmic psychedelia always threatening to break out from behind their short angular tunes. As much as this may be true Omni seem to have struck a balance between the two and have not allowed one to dominate the other. The new material is interesting as the duality seems inherent in both new tracks ‘Sunset Preacher’ and ‘Delicacy’ and if they are anything to go by, their live shows will remain a joyful balance of the sharpness of the song and the underlying rhythmic base.

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Matthew Bellingham

As an English Literature student it seemed almost a prerequisite that I should pursue some form of writing, so apologies for any undergraduate pretentiousness that is detected. I try to catch concerts in both my hometown of Manchester and my adopted University hometown of Sheffield. I started regularly attending gigs as recently as 2015, and since then have continued to turn up as frequently as possible. Personal highlights include Horsebeach's debut Manchester show and Eagulls' gig at the Broomhall Centre in Sheffield.