Having visited the promoter Now Wave’s new venue YES two days in a row, before I comment on tonight’s action here’s a brief digression regarding what I saw of opening night on Friday. Entering just before Dutch Uncles are due to play on YES’s third floor venue known as The Pink Room, the first-floor bar is rammed, and the Pink Room even more so. For an opening weekend, the draw of people is impressive but this highlights a few minor drawbacks. Although the crowd is large it seems many were lured in by the promises of free pizza and beer rather than music as the first three songs of the set are accompanied by the constant chatter from the back regions of the room. YES seems to be keen to position itself as a place to meet and eat in the day and a venue by night and the two functions mix somewhat uneasily on Friday.

The sheer volume of people also highlights the fact that unless one is at the front of the room, a full view of the artists on stage isn’t that easy to come by. The Pink Room is funnel shaped, welcoming at the back and gradually squeezing people in at the front, which, when there is a sizeable crowd attending, can somewhat obscure the stage. The performance space is only elevated by around half a metre so the full effects of Duncan Wallis’ dance moves are lost by only being able to see his torso which occasionally disappears behind the heads of those in front of me. Another thing that is lost on me is what Duncan is saying between songs, as the words disappear amongst the other incomprehensible conversations going on around the room. As the person in front of me accurately surmised, “he might as well be speaking German.” As this was the first night of gigs I’m sure these minor issues can be easily resolved by this experience of having many people and bands filling the space.

Arriving this evening then I had a slight sense of trepidation that my chance to finally see Mush live might be mired in the same issues as the previous night. It was immediately obvious that I didn’t need to worry as being offered a free pint on entry to anywhere is surely a good omen. The Pink Room is sparsely populated at this earlier start time as the revellers from the night before are presumably still collectively recovering from the 1000 free drinks that were given away. I get the chance to have a brief walk around to properly absorb the full space of YES before Holiday Ghosts start their set. The first thing to say about this group is that they look like they’re having great fun throughout, playing a blues-inspired garage rock with occasional shades of country, putting me in mind of Manchester locals Fruit Tones. Their digestible and upbeat rock ‘n’ roll songs are a perfect way to open the evening and any doubts I had when I first walked in are forgotten by the time they reach the end of their set. They were an absolute joy to watch and if they return to Manchester I would encourage everyone to go and see this for themselves.

A short while later it’s time for Mush who open with the off kilter ‘Litvinenko’, featuring some wiry interlocking bass and guitar lines and a distorted, driving chorus. As much as plenty of Mush’s tracks follow a similar formula the recipe never wears thin. Frontman Daniel Hyndman’s delivery of his wry lyrics is genuinely idiosyncratic and it’s clear from tonight’s set that his range has vastly evolved since the band’s debut EP, Ex-Communique. The drumming is technically innovative and compliments the constantly busy twin guitar leads. Mush’s final song, ten minute epic ‘Alternative Facts,’ is an offering from a truly innovative band going places and their debut album is certainly one to keep an eye out for.

YES is also something to keep watch on as it finds it feet in the Manchester scene. They have numerous gigs scheduled for the months leading up to December and it will be interesting to see how the venue comes to exist for people once the excitement of opening weekend has died down and it must compete head on with what the rest of the city has to offer. All I can suggest is that if they keep securing bands of the calibre they have tonight, it’s bound to be a success. Good luck to the Now Wave team in their new venture.

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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.