Voodoos open up proceedings and set the bar high. Having brought a crowd with them as well, impressive given they're two hundred miles from home, they're keen to make their mark with a crowd that are already here in numbers to check out all four bands. They've already headlined King Tut's back home and won over a load of admirers with their debut single Careless, which they open the set with, and its follow up Natalie which brings it to a glorious end. In between songs like Stockholm and Party's Over don't let the pace or quality drop from those two singles, they're not fazed by either the opening slot or the initially reticent locals in the crowd. It doesn't take too long for them to be won over though by their boundless energy and the way they fuse so many recognizable influences into something that manages the mean trick of sounding fresh and unique.
Matter Of Mind are next up and unlike many of their contemporaries they're not resting on the laurels of releasing an EP and then sitting back and playing the same set for the next twelve months. Their set leaves out their last single but one Far Too Wrong in favour of two new songs Sanity and Sparks In The Blood which both show an accelerating forward momentum in their songwriting. There's still place for old favourites like Coffee Stains And Migraines and State Of Mind (which opens the set and whose line "where the fuck is my big break?" might soon be answered) in the set as well as their most recent single Stay which closes the set. Matter Of Mind still stand out from the crowd a bit, they're not influenced by the city's musical heroes of the recent and less recent past like so many and there's none of the cocksure Manc front man in lead singer Jordan, but by bands with a harder edge to them and it shows in their own songs. They still manage though to deliver songs that are memorable, even on first listen, and if the two new songs are anything to go by, that upward trajectory is set to continue.
Mint hail from Grimsby, something they're keen to tell us. Their songs are as big, bold and rocking as their hairstyles; they don't hold back on songs like Hypoallergenic and St Oxford as well as a couple of new songs that they tell us they're working on. They deal in trademark big anthemic choruses that almost bowl you over with their ferocity but which lift you up on a wave. The response they get at the end of each song tells its own story and it's not hard to tell why they've gone down such a storm with This Feeling's crowd across the country. They're about having a good time, letting yourself get lost in the music as they do rather than creating some bold artistic statement.
It'd be easy to lump Proletariat in with Cabbage and The Blinders and be done with it, but that would be doing them a massive disservice. Tonight's set, where you can still see the whites of their eyes, shows that they're not simply riding on someone else's coat-tails. There's an anger and a rage to much of what James sings that comes from the heart, from the streets of Mossley where the working class are treated like shit by the powers that be miles away in London. Previous singles Kiss Of Death and Ignorance as well as Standing In The Cold brim with a fury that feels like it's going to explode violently at any second unless they take their foot off the accelerator pedal that's hammered down to the floor, driven along by a sense of injustice and fire in the belly. Mr Brown is almost spiteful in its delivery, words spat out to make them heard against the impressive sound that Connor, Aaron and Luke create.
They finish with a cover of Iggy Pop's I Wanna Be Your Dog, a song which feels like a perfect way for them to conclude as it contains so many of the elements that make Proletariat the band they are. This is a hot, sweaty fusion of rock and roll and punk from the streets of a suburban town, the performance an expression of what it's like to grow up and live there and a means of fighting against the system.
Voodoos are on Facebook and Twitter.
Matter Of Mind are on Facebook and Twitter. They headline Rebellion in Manchester on February 17th.
Mint are on Facebook and Twitter.
Proletariat are on Facebook and Twitter. They're close to selling out their next headline show at Manchester Deaf Institute (March 23 - tickets here). Read our interview with them here.