Tuesday 28 May 2024

Bodega / Model/Actriz / Panic Shack / Déjà Vega - Manchester Band On The Wall - 27th May 2024

Bank Holiday Monday saw the second part of Now Wave's mini-festival Bad Dreams at Band On The Wall. Headlined by Bodega, with support from Model/Actriz, Panic Shack, Déjà Vega and DEAF DEAF DEAF, the event deserved a far better turnout than the one that attended as the artists provided a varied and exciting set of performances across from late afternoon into the evening.
The early start meant we missed DEAF DEAF DEAF but there were very positive noises about them from our friends who'd got in at the start. The room isn't very full by the time Déjà Vega take to the stage and is probably only around two-thirds capacity at the end of the night, even though tonight had been downgraded from New Century Hall, around three times the size of venue. Whilst the trade in arena tickets seems to be in rudest health, there's a growing problem around attendances at this level and even this well-curated line-up struggles against that.

With only half an hour to play with and now accustomed to playing sets two or three times that length as their star has deservedly risen, Déjà Vega go for the jugular delivering a five-song set of them at their most ferocious and intense - starting with Mr Powder and moving through Eyes Of Steel, Spitting Gas, Who We Are and a thirteen-minute onslaught of their traditional set-closer and multi-headed beast that is The Test. Jack is like a man possessed, whether in his guitar playing or his vocals that are delivered with a venom that has everyone taking a step back. The Test continues to take on new parts as they push its boundaries far beyond the recorded version and let their musical imaginations run riot. Mike and Tom are equally as important to the sound as their front man, intuitively following each other as they bulldoze everything in front of them and set down an impressive marker for the bigger names on the bill to measure up to.

Panic Shack are glorious. Proud of their Welsh heritage, but not too proud to joke about having to translate what they're saying, the four of them wearing Dangerous Gigs For Men shirts whilst asking people to cheer for tits after an unreleased song about them that's sure to get debate raging when they come to release it. All six songs from their Baby Shack EP are present and correct, songs about lighters, Ju Jitsu, not wanting kids and the glorious The Ick about small things that turn you off potential love interests. A new song Vape, Keys, Phone, Lipgloss becomes an instant singalong classic whilst their last single, from way back in 2022, Meal Deal laments being skint, relatable to most working-class musicians these days.

They mix their DIY punk sound with the most delicious vocal harmonies like the very best fusion of two different styles and have an energy that's impossible not to be drawn in by. There's plenty of artists in this field right now, but Panic Shack are head and shoulders above them. The raw energy and the playfulness in the lyrics and the delivery are a magical concoction. Sarah's vocals capture both anger and humour and Meg, Romi and Em's backing vocals sugarcoat them at times but that merely serves to heighten the impact. They steal the show and leave both Model/Actriz and Bodega a hard act to follow.

We know little about Model/Actriz and asking our friends they tell us opinion is pretty much split down the middle - an almost cult-like adoration or a real dislike. It's an intriguing state for a band - nothing's worse than not generating an opinion or indifference. Their set is interrupted by a power outage caused by a spilled pint on some electrics that doesn't help, but over the course of forty-five minutes they provide enough evidence to support either opinion. 

There's moments of real brilliance when they cast off the shackles, let loose and the mosh pit goes with them, with Cole down on the floor amongst the acolytes, lost with them in a surge of potent electro-punk. There's moments though where everything feels like a drone, the music almost not there, the vocals monotone and the energy that's built dissipates. It's a wild contrast and one that loses those around us that aren't emotionally invested in the record and the band. We totally understand the adoration, because their most thrilling moments are the most exhilarating rollercoaster ride but equally why people might actively dislike them. Those are very much in the minority tonight though.

Bodega bring the evening to a close with a gloriously upbeat set, whether it be one of their "rock blocks" or the more danceable sections they manage to fuse a whole mixing pot of influences from their New York home into something that very much feels like their own. The combination of Nikki and Ben's vocals, either as one or in tandem, opens up their playbook and ensures that for ninety minutes and twenty-two songs they've got the Manchester crowd losing themselves either to the groove or to rock and roll without the energy on stage ever dropping down.

As you'd expect they take heavily from this year's Our Brand Could Be Yr Life, their most open and immediately accessible album to date without compromising on their principles and the style that has served them so well over previous records, both aurally and visually, Nikki dispensing fake Bodega dollar bills into the audience towards the end of the set during one of Our Brand's stand out track Cultural Consumer III. 

However, they skip between albums with the join lines barely audible. Jack In Titanic and their euphoric night-closer Gyrate date as far back as their 2018 debut Endless Scroll whilst their last-but-one record Broken Equipment is still well represented,  They throw in covers too - incorporating most of The Stone Roses' Shoot You Down into the middle of Tarkovski - as well as opening the encore with their take on Dylan's Ballad Of A Thin Man. Their joy at performing, be it Adam's animated stand-up drumming and percussion at the back or Dan and Adam's guitar and bass, resonates with the audience and brings the night to a joyful conclusion.

Bodega's website can be found here and they are on Facebook

Model/Actriz are on Facebook and Twitter

Panic Shack are on Facebook and Twitter

Déjà Vega are on Facebook and Twitter


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