Manchester is city full of music venues of shapes, size and indeed quality. And though we have of course seen our fair share of closures, we’ve also thankfully seen others open in recent years too. As such, despite having been going to gigs across the city for over 20 years now, there’s always somewhere new to discover.
Today it’s the turn of Fuel Café. A small bar and vegetarian restaurant with an even smaller gig space upstairs, it’s on a busy main road in South Manchester, and while having hosted shows and events for a number of years now, tonight is our first time here.
Arriving at the venue slightly before 8pm, it’s obvious we should have got here a little earlier. Unfortunately, prior commitments mean we miss tonight’s supports, The Grotbags and Fresh Specimen respectively, which is a shame. It being Sunday night however, times are surprisingly earlier than one might expect, meaning we’ve just enough time to grab a drink and head upstairs to an already-heaving venue before Brighton’s Shit Present take to the stage a little after eight.
With a new album on the horizon, they thankfully have a little more material at their disposal now than they did the first time we saw them. Admittedly however, the band has been somewhat quiet in that time, and as a result, tonight’s set is a still short sharp rollercoaster that sees the Brighton-based four-piece careering through both fan-favourites such as ‘Melbourne’ and ‘Evaporate’ as well as more recent material, such as a joyously scrappy and optimistic outing for ‘Fuck It’ early on.
Indeed, with such a short set, one might be forgiven for wondering why the band is headlining. Though for each and every one of the 70 or so people crammed into a neighborhood bar on a Sunday night, the answer is both simple and obvious. There are just not many bands in the UK doing similar things to Shit Present, whose idiosyncratic brand of scrappy, poppy and upbeat indie punk manages to come from a different perspective to most and be utterly accessible in the process.
A raucous outing for ‘Anxious Type’ sees the band close out proceedings a little more than half an hour after taking to the stage. Inciting the biggest reaction from the crowd all evening. Something of a call to arms for a generation dogged by insecurity and mental health issues, it’s both relatable and cathartic, providing the perfect close to a short though no less enjoyable evening.