Photo: Peter Rea

– THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER –

It seems I’ll be spending half of November at The Deaf Institute, their gig list for this month is right up my street and hopefully, by December, the bar staff will all come to know what I drink. Wot God Forgot have brought together the 3 performers tonight, all of whom have appeared on my musical radar at some point, so turning up early was an easy decision to make.

The Louche FC start by hitting us with a reverb laden wall of sound, possibly derived from My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth, with lyrics sung using a combination of notes that remind me of Morrissey. The Manchester band have recently received airplay from Tom Ravenscroft on BBC radio 6 Music with their latest single ‘Romantic’, which is kindly introduced by the female singer (their names are nowhere to be found, I’m sorry). The shimmering, spacious guitar sound could also come from The Walkmen and later in the set I can hear Best Coast. ‘Only In A Dream’ has a swaying, woozy 50’s Americana rock n roll vibe to it, there should be spotlights on the mirrorball right now… and slow-dancing. The rather tall lead guitarist finishes the set by getting annoyed with his instrument, he attempts to remove the strings but settles for the wires and then drops it unceremoniously on the floor. Comical.

I get the feeling Holiday Shores don’t really want to be here. They spend about half an hour on stage, nonchalantly setting up their equipment before stumbling across a cohesive sound, which may of may not be their first tune. Lead singer Nathan Pemberton bitterly announcesĀ “We’re called ‘Guests’, according to the poster outside”. The music is slow and chilled, the best comparison that I can come up with is Blue States, but they don’t seem bothered about making much of an effort tonght. They’re just going through the motions here, it’s a passive agressive performance. Nathan sits cross-legged on the stage at one point after his personal contribution for that particular song has ended. “We’re from America.” Big silence. “We’re sick, our equipment is sick”. He doesn’t mean that in a ‘bad meanin’ good’ kind of way, maybe that was an effort to apologise for his current mood? Awkward. “This might be our last song, I don’t know…” does he mean, EVER?! Their 3rd (or maybe 4th) and final tune sounds like a modern day Hall and Oates. I like it. *polite applause* “Thanks man…” they trudge off stage.

With their debut album ‘In Heaven’ now a couple of month old, and surfing the wave of hype that surrounded their EP’s earlier this year, 5-piece New York bandĀ Twin Sister have good reason to be optimistic. Eric Cardona plays guitar and starts the singing. Casually dressed, he bounces enthusiastically with bended knees and hits a drum machine like Yannis from Foals. Andrea Estella takes over the vocal during ‘Stop’, she’s head to toe in black from her grunge boots and long skirt to her wide brimmed black hat. She can hardly be seen under the low lights, but for her pale ankles, hands, face and wavy blond hair.

Recent single ‘Bad Street’ is their second song, a summery number with light synth pulses over a cheeky, flacid moog sound. Andrea’s playful, teasing voice comes into it’s own here as the flirting begins, with Eric repeatedly singing “I want it bad”. Dry Hump is one of three, older, duet acoustic songs, which suit the sombre mood and quiet atmosphere. There’s a sultry and evocative invitation from Andrea to join her, ‘if we’re lonely’ and then “pay me, any way you want to”. It’s difficult not to fall under her spell. A lone man next to me films the song on his digital camera while dancing along, wearing a huge smile on his face.

You could hear a pin drop in here, until the band let us know when the correct time to clap would be. The responses are enthusiastic and thankfully shatter the awkward silences. Phenomenons is a floaty, dreamlike tune, and a highlight for me. They finish with radio hit All Around and Away We Go, the song that is responsible for my interest. It’s effortlessly cool and should probably be played while driving next to a beach in a convertible, rather than in dark and wintery Manchester. The bassline is simple but mesmerising, with a drum beat to match, and ticking synch stabs.

Andrea admits she enjoyed tonight, it’s easy to assume she’s being sarcastic because there aren’t that many people here, but she insists she means it and sounds genuine enough. They stand there after their final song, not knowing what to do, thank us and slowly drift off stage. An encore is denied as they admit they don’t have any more songs. Andrea seems reluctant to leave, saying she’ll remember this occasion and then offers free, signed posters from the merch stall, which she hands out personally along with a few hugs.

The nature of Twin Sister’s material was never really intended to get people dancing in the aisles, though Eric’s movements suggested otherwise. Silently listening and swaying is ok here, though it did feel awkward at times. Appreciation was shown by the crowd in more subtle ways. Even the livelier tunes have a dark and moody edge to them, evoking images of a David Lynch film. Polite, middle America, with a sinister undercurrent.

Peter Rea

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