Dead Pretties


Walking into any building to see Ultimate Painting tuning up, and knowing you’ve got five hours of great music ahead of you, is enough to get even the most dour Mancunian hack excited, and that was what we were in for on Saturday Night. Strange Waves II, a festival hosted at The Ritz by promoters Strange Days and Now Wave boasted a line up to rival its initial event. It is impossible to do all the performances justice with but a few choice words, but I’ll do my best.

The festival is already in full swing by the time I arrive – having been going since 2pm with bands playing from the off. Time enough for a pint and a quick ogle of the guitars from the balcony and Ultimate Painting are on, playing songs from across their two fantastic LPs. The set is short, as is often the case with these multi-band events, but they manage to fit in ‘Monday Morning, Somewhere Central’ – a highlight from latest record Dusk, jamming the prime cut out with their typically wonderful guitar interplay. A band very much relaxed on record, their live performance gives both front men Jack Cooper and James Hoare plenty of opportunity to flex their guitar skills and shred.

Melbourne’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are next. A band unknown to me beforehand, they appear to have bussed in the fans, with plenty at the barrier singing along to the band’s rousing three-guitar tunes. Obvious rock influences (and the fact that their bass player looks like Canned Heat’s Larry Taylor) give this band a classic feel from the off. The rhythm section is relentlessly tight, giving the three front men freedom to have fun with both their vocal and instrumental harmonies.

Without time to stop off at the bar, it is down to the basement to catch Dead Pretties. The London band have attracted a fair bit of fuss from the music press in the capital, and their raucous performance gives them fair reason to. Sounding much bigger than their three-piece set up would suggest, singer-guitarist Jacob Slater attracts most of the attention with his wild-eyed, sometimes close-to-violent stage antics, while the songs are held together by the repetitive grind of Oscar Browne on bass. The rhythm section – so often seemingly on the brink of collapse – is a little reminiscent of early Fall records.

Beach Fossils

Beach Fossils typically draw huge crowds to the ballroom, playing tracks from their long-awaited third album Somersault. They fill the room well, boosted by the constant presence of keys to boost the guitars of the three main members. Beach Fossils create a great atmosphere, although at times it does feel a little like atmosphere is all that there was there. Perhaps a slightly ill-fitting slot for the established band, surrounded by the frantic performances of many of the other bands on the bill.

Omni are up next to headline the stage in the basement. There on recommendation from Marc Riley – who had latest single ‘Equestrian’ dedicated to him, Omni are absolutely fantastic. Their angular songs and jerky performance call to mind all sorts of fantastic bands of old – Gang of Four and Wire predominant in that mix – but they wear their influences in such a way that their songs constantly surprise me. There isn’t a bad track, and the Atlanta, Georgia band have me fully expecting to be thrilled by the forthcoming album Multi-Task. Again, a three piece who sound so much bigger than their numbers might suggest, the guitar (played by Frankie Broyles, formerly of Deerhunter) and bass (provided by deadpan singer Philip Frobos) work around each other in a way that nobody has done so well since Andy Gill and Dave Allen. There is a fight in the audience at one point – an idiot pours a pint over a girl and proceeded to abuse her when she didn’t look thrilled about it; he subsequently got bashed about a bit – but the band play on regardless. Things soon resolve themselves and everybody gets back to taking in how well this post-punk trio are performing. I hope they are back in Manchester soon.

Parquet Courts

Parquet Courts take to the ballroom stage to play their headline show at around quarter to midnight, welcomed by an audience that was in no way flagging. Introduced by bassist Sean Yeaton, they launch straight into Human Performance single ‘Dust’, followed by the album’s title track and ‘Outside’. As is to be expected from a Parquet Courts set, the songs are often expanded with noisy jams, and these are often juxtaposed with the short, sharp tracks from their breakout second album Light Up Gold. Tracks from across their back catalogue are played, and I am particularly pleased to hear an extended version of ‘Up All Night’, an instrumental from Sunbathing Animal that I always felt was crying out for more to be made of its bass groove. They end with a brilliant version of ‘One Man No City’ – the Human Performance highlight’s distinctive drum groove prominent under the layers of feedback they add to the live version. Other highlights include breakout album-opening double salvo ‘Master of My Craft’ and ‘Borrowed Time’. The band are fascinating to watch – particularly Andrew Savage, whose utter dedication to his performance means the band will never fail to cap off a night in the best way possible.

Parquet Courts: Official | Facebook 

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.