It’s a baking night in South Manchester, even as the band sound check, and set-up for a night curated by Cheesus Crust Records, DIY “label and gig putter on thing that will never be as memorable as Neck Deep”.  They’re running 45 minutes late and a crowd of thirteen people make a decent fist of rendering Fuel Café’s top floor unbearable, the bands due to play just sort of float around popping beers and chatting with the moustached promoter. The windows are closed as Dream House holler, and with reference to ‘Courage the Cowardly Dog’, launch into a thudding, plodding post-hardcore, noise rock; beer instantly goes flying, the lead singer bends over double as if about to be sick and wails to the sound of dark melancholy. The Beat influence is clear; many of the lyrics are spoken word (“this song has an extract from Bukowski”) and a punk influence is equally present (“but I forgot the book so fuck it”), and the set ends with dark anarcho-punk riot ‘I wish I was in a Black Metal Band’ (“cause I do”).

It’s a suitably sweaty start, with the crowd having swollen somewhat, and the band’s energy has created a certain excitement and certainly much conversation. Outside the venue, having a cigarette, Poledo chat about Dream House; none of them expected such a sound to come from three guys who were clearly the youngest in the venue, and probably breaking the law, pints in hand. “People are usually shocked by us, we’re usually the heaviest, I think we’ll be OK” Evan (guitar/vocals) comments. One of Beta Blocker and the Body Clock is pretty sure their parents were watching from the back.

Liverpool’s Hooten Tennis Club begin to make noise from upstairs, our cue to return; the four piece share vocal duties, the two guitarists slide in and out of lead and rhythm, speaking of a tight-knit, well-rehearsed sound. ‘Spokes’ from their first E.P. ‘Long Barrelled Saturday’ is woozy, bluesy, all throbbing feedback and rumbling baselines before guitar and bass trip over each other, tumbling and into a disorganised, postmodern heap. Their newer material tends towards a blown out 90’s fuzz-pop, as well as long song titles. Single ‘Kathleen Sat Down on the Arm of her Favourite Chair’ sums this up, and closest to me, one band member lays down his Telecaster to eat an apple and play tambourine. The rest of the set follows a similar format, and it’s all tight, and it’s all well crafted, but the band seems to regularly tread the same territory. There is plenty of appreciation from the crowd and the other bands however; Hooten sound like the kind of band everyone was once in. It’s familiar and to some extent comforting in that and their sound, for me at least, was one which dripped with nostalgia.

Beta Blocker And The Body Clock

Beta Blocker And The Body Clock

They are replaced by the first of the two headliners, Beta Blocker and the Body Clock, who open to a significantly thinner crowd; fairy lights that were adorning the back wall find their way into the kick drum, wrapping the band in a warm glow which matches their sound. The snare drum pads away earnestly behind harmony rich opener ‘Graduation’ which occasionally pauses for breath with a satisfying stop-start, loud-quiet to close with reverberating whoops. A distinctive groove underscores everything Beta Blocker do, and their set has an off-beat, soft-focus tinge to it; an island feel which smacks of Yuck fresh back from Goa and makes the room shake to the sound of feet tapping.

Poledo have more of a thrusting, rumbling urgency to them, exemplified on ‘Loser’, and as predicted they do have a heavier sound than Beta Blocker and the Body Clock. The beat is never less than motivating however and Evan’s vocals are alternately falsetto and distorted, again providing a sense of light and shade. The next track begins with a Beach Boys swagger, before slipping into a dark occultish slow-jam and if you want for a comparison, Los Campesinos seem close. They have a similar energy but a grungier sound, and whilst new track ‘King of Cool’ opens with a miss-step (“I made a schoolboy error, obviously I’m dressed like a schoolboy”) it’s a highly accomplished garage sound on the whole.

The whole night has an entirely DIY feel to it, and is all the more endearing and enjoyable for it; the merch stand consists of a handful of Beta Blocker tapes, a Poledo LP, some t-shirts and a pleasantly full donations box. Dream House hang around all night, smoking illicit cigarettes and passing round a coke bottle I assume had some vodka in it. Poledo and Beta Blocker are good friends and it shows; everyone is there for a good time, especially the bands. The communal, ramshackle feel only makes the evening more enjoyable, each band gets about the same amount of time on stage, and at no point is it all about any one person, or band. The DIY scene has always had a purity about it; it’s by definition almost entirely divorced form money and doesn’t seem particularly concerned about getting any, with releases on cassette and their ambivalent attitude towards start times. But it’s these quirks, (apple eating guitarist, beat-punk teenager’s parents, chatting with the bands) that make the evening interesting and a whole load of fun. It’s a refreshing change from watching a big name with big money from row Z; you can smell it in the air in South Manchester, and it’s not just the heat.

Poledo Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter

Beta Blocker and the Body Clock Facebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter

John Platt

John was raised between Mum's Motown and Dad's Hawkwind, and likes words almost as much as music. Below are some carefully chosen words about some music John particularly likes.