The Black Tambourines

The Black Tambourines


Tonight appears to be my lucky night, because 4 great bands are playing around the corner from my flat, for free. Family Tree have put this together, along with Bleached DJ’s, who are to feature regularly at this venue. I wander into the converted terraced house unopposed, a little later than advertised due to a fire alarm, as TVAM is setting up his TV set. Is the kettle on? There aren’t many bands from Wigan that Joe Oxley doesn’t play in, but tonight he’s just accompanied by a VHS player, a guitar, and an impressive array of foot-switches. Seemingly random kitsch clips from saturated and glitchy classic television programmes hypnotically play out before us, along with cutting beats and synth soundscapes, that Joe plays along to. It’s a garage/surf rock audio visual experience that he described beautifully, when he appeared on the Silent Radio show last week, as “…nostalgia, and burning it in front of your eyes”.

‘Porsche Majeure’ and ‘Kryptonite Semen’ impress amongst the fantastically named tunes in his set. He rarely sings, but when he does, it reminds me somewhat of Ricky Wilson (not a bad thing). Everything ties together so well, and his songs have earned heavy radio play from 6music as well as our own show, so the visuals aren’t completely relied upon in order to enjoy the music… but it’s a great thing to watch, so catch him if you can.

Mark Vernon has also appeared on the Silent Radio show, when he was part of Brown Brogues. His new project is snowballing rapidly into a very big snowball indeed, with an impressive selection of tunes under their belts in a relatively short space of time. Peace and Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali are a local psych-tinged 4-piece garage rock band, who have a rule of all wearing something leather onstage. Even the vegans are going to love this band, I’m sure. Someone tweeted that they should be signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records, and I see no reason why not. Mark has a cheeky swagger about him, beneath the moody rock image, not dissimilar to Jack himself. “Icky Thump”.

The room is pretty much full now, as the band generate rapturous applause and complimentary comments between each song. As when I saw them support The Parrots at Soup Kitchen a few weeks ago, Mark confidently owns the stage, flanked by two talented and stunning female synth and bass players, in front of the impressive drummer who’s tucked away in the corner of the small stage. The uplifting chorus “I gave my heart away” echoes around the room with heavy reverb… a song that will no doubt be sung back to them by the audience shortly after this material is officially released. An emotional song that contains the lyrics “I won’t let you down” (or words to that effect) is a highlight, and they finish with a slower, pounding tune that just keeps on going, and never gets boring. I’m just going to have to see them a third time… definitely ones to watch in 2016.

The Red Cords are a garage rock band with more of a punk edge. The 3-piece from Falmouth cause a couple of over-excited punters to literally flip out at the side of the stage, reeking havoc and providing amusement with their wildly flailing arms. ‘Scratch It Off’, on their Soundcloud, is a recording that perfectly captures their vibrant and energetic live performance.

Headliners The Black Tambourines are also from Falmouth. You’d think that, of anywhere in the country, bands from Cornwall would have a rite to produce authentic surf tunes, but these are pure, chaotic garage rock; they remind me of The Hives and The Black Lips. During a long set that continues well past 12am, the crowd is pretty much 90% mosh-pit. Beer flies and drunken mates hug/batter each other while singing along to material from their full-throttle back catalogue. A chant also bafflingly breaks out for the Welsh/Reading footballer, Robson-Kanu. Students…

We’ve been thoroughly spoilt tonight, and all for £0.00p. Every band has impressed and thrilled the crowd who were all readily up for it. Hopefully, Family Tree will put together another night like this, soon. The atmosphere in here was what a garage rock gig should be like. Paying mega-bucks to go see a band at an arena seems all the more pointless to me, after tonight.

Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.