The Night And Day's local showcase nights are a great concept. Three or four bands, not always local, less than a fiver to get in and always guaranteed to throw up a new band or two. Tonight's gig featured two of our tips for 2015 and two bands we'd never heard of before. We were impressed by all four.
Opening up proceedings were Tameside's Fly The Bird. We knew nothing about them and as they came on stage we had visions of pub rock, but how wrong that first impression was. Sure the four-piece all-male bass, two-guitar and drums band set-up places some limitations on the sound, but Fly The Bird avoid all the traditional cliches of that structure and manage to retain a personality of their own. Their seven-song set is full of big anthemic songs. such as (we're guessing at song titles here) Always The Same, From The Heart and especially All Alone that never sound the same and which never outstay their welcome nor descend into cheap sub-Oasis posturing or stretching the songs out for the sake of it. Their rhythm section is tight and propels their sound and ensures that the listener's attention is held. Their front man has an engaging, charming stage persona without saying too much that makes you immediately warm to them. Their facebook description says "it's just a band, init?". It is, but it's a damn good one.
Betraying the local theme of the night are Dundalk's Bold Things. They're hindered a bit by the fact that they have two vocalists, one of whom is the drummer, and the drummer's kit is possibly closer to Dundalk on the stage than it is to Oldham Street, so it feels a little strange watching the other three play whilst he sings, but they overcome this later in the set with the vocalist and drummer swapping places. What impressed us most about Bold Things is the fact that, true to their name, they're striving to create something different with their sound; it doesn't quite always work, but when it does there's moments where it all gels and they create a cacophony where the two vocals melt into the wall of guitars, drums and keyboards and emerge the other side spindly and fragile as they drop to spoken word sections of some of the songs. They play tracks from their recent EP Colours To The Wall and a track called Love The Bomb particularly impresses us. They're not quite the finished article, but they leave us thinking that they will emerge someday soon like a butterfly out of a cocoon and astonish us.
Tonight is Ist Ist's debut show, not that you'd know it from the confidence that they exude from the minute they take to the stage and strike into Nights Arm, the sheer wall of noise from which songs emerge and the moshpit that develops shortly into their set. The songs are short and sweet, the seven song set clocking in at just over twenty minutes, but for that time they've got everyone gripped.
There's Joy Division comparisons of course, especially in the way the bass player holds his bass slung low and in the way he dictates the sound in a way so few bass players ever can, even mounting the precarious boxes positioned at the front of the stage at one point, but no one in the room probably ever saw JD and Ist Ist are so here and now. The three lose themselves in their own world but the musical chemistry between them ensures that the ferocity of the vocals, whether they be sung or half-spoken half-sung, aren't submerged in the cavernous spaces created by the rhythm section and that they change key and pace so smoothly we hardly notice.
There's an anger, a spark and a feral spirit burning in every note and every word that is lacking from so much new music these days that make any comparisons merely a marker. Left For Dead has been the track that's had all the focus so far on their Soundcloud and is a two-minute adrenalin-fuelled blast on the senses, but there's a trio of songs at the end that show they've progressed on from that already - Eyes Are Closed, Animal and a reworked from demo Pleasure - showing that there's much more to them than turning the guitars and amps up as far as they'll go. If the ears of the public aren't too sensitive to the noise they create, Ist Ist are going to be a very big deal indeed very soon.
It's a tough act for The Chadelics to follow and they're never going to compete on the sheer scale of sound with Ist Ist, but that's the beauty of these showcase nights at the Night And Day. They often pull together sets by bands that wouldn't ordinarily share a stage, so there's no need for them to deviate from their beautifully crafted three minute catchy pop gems. They create something that's easier on the ear than what we've heard previously, but without feeling in any way lightweight or bubblegum. Behind the youthful on-stage exuberance, there's a strong songwriting craft on show tonight, merging catchy riffs that attach themselves to your ears with strong, intelligent lyrics and delicious harmonies that will have both the kids and their parents swooning over them.
From the opening bars of first song Hear It Coming from their debut Ryan It's OK EP and its rippling guitar middle-eight, they create a feel-good sound that hints at all sorts of influences, both older and more modern, but over which they spread their infectious personalities. It's impossible not to warm to them and get drawn into the melodies that run through each and every song. They unveil a song so new that it doesn't have a title, but which shows that they're still developing their craft and slowly widening their horizons sonically. The only real lowpoint is a cover of The Smiths' This Charming Man, not necessarily because it's bad, because it isn't, but because they don't need to do it, particularly when you hear Cheap Thrills, the track they follow it with, which sounds big, replete with a hook that you won't be able to get out of your head and perfect single material. More of this and set closer Sociopath, which showcases a harder edge to their sound, and a little bit of luck and The Chadelics will be a household name.
Fly The Bird are on Facebook and Twitter.
Bold Things' official website can be found here. They are also on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter.
Ist Ist are on Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter.
Chadelics are on Facebook, Soundcloud and Twitter.
All photos by Andy Carson and are his copyright. A full set can be found on his Flickr page.