I often wonder as I‘m flitting about between Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool (and all points in between) that whilst I may understand a little about the process of forming a band (even though I’ve never been in one).
Understanding how you actually start putting gigs on is another thing altogether, which is why I was glad when I was approached by Harvey Carmichael (who I’d only previously known as the guitarist with Violet Club), to come down to Manchester’s Lock 91 and take some pictures of a gig that he was putting on with his uni mate Jack Bethell, under the guise of Anacrusis, their gig promotions operation. “How do you even START putting on gigs?”, I asked – and they enlightened me!
Harvey and Jack are currently in the final year of studying Music Management and Creative Enterprise at Salford uni and as part of the course, they were given an assignment to put on an event by early 2023 – this ended up as a near sellout at Lock 91 back in April, and they were so pleased with the response that they started a monthly residency there. Tonight’s event will be the last gig of that residency, and, having built up relationships with a large roster of bands and performers, they’ve decided to take the next step up by putting on the “Unfiltered Sessions” festival.
This will take place at Lions Den and Low on April 13 and will include two of the bands on tonight’s lineup, namely Teles and Cutscene, along with headliners Muddy Elephant and many more, and they’ll be joined in this endeavour by course mate Keeley, who’s in charge of graphic design and social media. Everything seems to be going swimmingly for Anacrusis as they start to build upon past successes, so I’ll be keeping a very close on them and their gigs.
With Violet Club drummer Hamish on sound duties tonight, first up are four-piece Atticast who eloquently describe themselves as an “Indie/Punk band from the NW”, and that’s exactly what they bring to the table, as punters continue to climb the stairs and enter this nicely-put together gig space. As Oasis’s, “Live Forever” fades into the background, Joe Harrison on vocals and rhythm guitar, Michael McVeigh on lead guitar, Max Coomber on bass and Lewis Stephenson on drums launch furiously into their set, playing for all the world as though there are hundreds before them on this cold Tuesday Manchester evening, and introducing us to the first song they released, in the form of “Luminessence”.
There are definite undertones of Green Day and Blink 182 in amongst the sound, but I swear I can hear The Ruts’ “Babylon’s Burning” and The Members’ “Sound of the Suburbs” bubbling underneath somewhere too. They have an unmistakable Mancunian punk sound about them (Pete Shelley would probably smile wryly), but being blessed or cursed with a long musical memory, I can also hear The Only Ones, Joy Division, Stiff Little Fingers and even Billy Bragg’s vocal delivery in there too.
They scarcely take time to breathe before launching into, “Ghetto blaster”. Sometimes, absolutely ALL you need is some head-down punk/indie/call it what you want, and Atticast are delivering that in bucketloads tonight. Joe tells us that they’re going to grace us with an EP soon which, on the strength of tonight’s performance will certainly be one to keep an eye (or indeed an ear) out for, and the first of these tracks is (I think), “Two-Two” which is a glorious slice of no-nonsense shoutiness followed by “No Stops” (hope I got that right – the ol’ ears aren’t what they used to be) which is a reminiscent in parts of Stiff Little Fingers’ “Alternative Ulster”.
Not that Atticast are just about shouting, of course – there’s an endearing raw earnestness about them and they look and sound like they believe wholeheartedly in what they’re doing. The set closer “Razor Blades” channels just enough of, “Another Girl, Another Planet” to keep me smiling, having been announced alongside a plea to keep an eye out for them on Instagram as Atticast have, “Loads of stuff coming up soon” – sounds like a fine idea to me, but in the meantime, check out latest release “Sub Zero”
Atticast played: Luminescence, Ghetto Blaster, Two-Two, No Stops and Razor Blades (and a few more).
Formed late in 2022, happy Liverpudlians Indoor Shoes have been pounding up and down the M62, trying to find the sweatiest venues in which to play – so far these have included EBGBs and the O2 Arts Club and tonight, it’s our turn. Evan on vocals is a larger-than-life character who needs little encouragement to either jump or dive down into the audience, sometimes accompanied by a pink megaphone and sometimes not, whilst bandmates Tommy on guitar, Ben on Bass and Sean on drums turn out a classy nine-song set with ease.
They describe themselves as liking, “Beer, drawing pictures of small horses and sweaty little venues full of sweaty little people.”, Lock 91 is starting to fill up nicely now – beer is definitely flowing, and whilst the small horses may not be in attendance yet (maybe they’re stuck at Burtonwood Services, who knows?), there’s an increasing amount of sweat in the audience, for sure.
The megaphone is put to good use in set opener, “Blackpool Lights” and it’s hard not to be drawn in by Evan’s good-natured charm – it’s a characteristic that not all frontmen possess, but it’s definitely a useful one. Indoor Shoes’ set is a warmly accessible mix of indie/blues-y/downright pop-y numbers punctuated by clever instrumentation and an in parts Arctic Monkeys tongue-in-cheek style of delivery. Eventually Evan bids us step forward, because he thinks he might get in trouble if we don’t (although I can’s see why), but it certainly makes the place feel cosier when we do.
“Aww, that’s really nice, thanks”, he beams – “See, it looks busier in here now – I was shi**ing myself ten minutes ago” – it’s fair to say that Lock 91 was looking a bit bereft of sweaty little people at 19:30, but it’s thankfully filled up nicely since. “MD” comes complete with a world-weariness of lyric and a twangage of guitar of which The Wedding Present would be justifiably proud.
Evan warns us that he’s about to, “Get unto us”, which is a tad worrying until we realize he merely means just walking through the crowd (phew!) and adds that if we feel uncomfortable about that, then we need to step nearer the front, as he’s heading for the back, before they launch into the breakneck rush of “Gone Fishing”. Sadly, the pink megaphone emerges as a casualty of war as it’s spilled its batteries somewhere during the shenanigans of the last song, so audience assistance is called upon (well done Sean!) to reassemble it.
The pace slows briefly for the surprisingly tender “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”, featuring some gorgeous guitar work, so much so that when we’re invited to wave our arms in the air, there seems absolutely no reason not to, as Evan again takes us to the Gedge of Heaven. The mournful “Peggy-Sue” has a certain Morrissey-esque (but before he went daft, obviously) quality about it, and Buddy Holly’s version, this is not (as Yoda might say).
In Tommy, Ben and Sean, Evan has a trio of talented musicians on whom he can rely whilst he gets on with the job up front and as a whole, they work very well. “Stop the car, I want to get out”, he entreats, and with another burst on the pink megaphone (I really don’t know why I enjoy saying that so much…), they’re off into the night and back up the M62, hopefully to bump into the small horses at Burtonwood.
Indoor Shoes played: Blackpool Lights, Chinatown, Jamie’s Song, Gone Fishing, The Bees, MD, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Peggy-Sue, and Stop the Car.
Forming in The Pink Panther’s hometown of Durham (Can I have a word, please…? Ed) early in 2022, Cutscene gigged around Newcastle before relocating to Manchester last August (good lads!) vocalist and guitarist Seb, lead guitarist Jacob, drummer Ollie and bassist Jack take to the stage with an air of confidence and an entourage of mates to boot, which is always encouraging. Set opener “Concrete Line” has a Fontaines-ish air about it, but it’s a lot darker and more intense.
We clearly must have retreated during the interval as Seb has to plead with us to move forward again, before we’re treated to what Cutscene hope will be their first single, in the form of, “Silent on the Shore” which makes me gaze at my shoes immediately, but which makes it hard to take photographs, so I stop. Seb demonstrates powerful vocals on this number and the guitar interplay from both Seb and Jacob is gorgeous. “Wedding Day” keeps up the pace with an opening guitar riff that puts me in mind of New Order’s “Dream Attack”
“Born Into a Life” kicks off with a sinister bass riff and again makes use of psych-ey guitarwork bordering on (speak their name softly) U2’s finer moments alongside powerful vocals that drift into Muse territory briefly, before realising what they’re doing and coming straight back again. Ollie and Jack on drums and bass (no, not Drum ‘n’ Bass, that’s a different thing altogether).
Provide a tight framework for their bandmates to operate around, painting a picture of a tight little outfit for whom, on the face of tonight’s showing, good things await. “Two Writers” slows down the pace and again allows Seb to demonstrate an almost Morrissey-esque range, which definitely makes you stop and pay attention.
“Imperium” is described as, “A bit of a disco song”, but whilst I’m not altogether sure how they arrive at this conclusion, you certainly CAN dance to it (albeit in a very reserved way) and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. There a shoutout to tonight’s promoters and their fellow bands, before, set closer “Foxglove” goes all trippy on us with a hypnotic and slightly disturbing guitar riff. You’ll like Cutscene, you really will, and you should try to make their journey to Manchester worthwhile (if it wasn’t already) by catching them headlining 33 Oldham Street on the 29th of March and at Anacrusis’ “Unfiltered Sessions” Festival on the 13th of April.
Cutscene played: Concrete Line, Silent on the Shore, Wedding Day, Born into a Life, Two Writers, Imperium and Foxglove
Comprising Tom Bedford on lead vocals and bass, Ollie Harrison and Ryan Smith on backing vocals and guitars and Freddy Green on drums, Huddersfield-based indie-rock band Teles have already shared stages with such luminaries as The Lottery Winners, Larkins, EEVAH and Tom Meighan, so tonight’s venue knows no fears for them, and if you’re a fan of the likes of The Lottery Winners, Sam Fender, Blink 182 or Corella, it’s fair to say that you may be on the way to discovering your new favourite band. Set Opener.
“Wishing Well” is a gutsy, blues-y number that has the crowd nodding appreciatively from the outset and you get the impression of a band that’s earned their headlining slot tonight by a lot of hard work and by squeezing in as many gigs as is humanly possible (and possibly then some). We don’t even get a gap in the proceedings before we’re advised that, “You Can’t fall in Love for the Sake of it” with a vocal style reminiscent of early Elvis Costello.
“How are we feeling on a Tuesday evening – isn’t it weird to be out drinking?” asks Tom after, “Rosie”, featuring both clever vocals and pleasing harmonies and 2022’s, “Harry & Bruce” have drawn to a close. Sadly, some of the audience seem to have drifted away after Cutscene’s set, which is a shame – nothing to do with Teles at all, who are putting on a fine set, it just seems that with a lot of muti-band gigs, friends of the support bands tend to drift sway once they’ve seen who they came to see, which is a shame as you often miss out on some great entertainment that you otherwise wouldn’t have seen.
Tom is quick to say a heartfelt thanks to those of us who have stuck around to see them and we’re treated to new track, “Silhouetto”, driven along by some efficient staccato drums courtesy of Freddy at the rear of the stage.
It’s actually quite hard to try to pigeonhole Teles – apart from the odd vocal comparison that my tired old memory banks draw up, they’re one of those band that really don’t sound particularly like ANYONE, which is all the more reason to get out there and judge them for yourselves. What they DO bring is a sense of fun, alongside well-crafted, three-minute tunes that have you jiggling appreciatively from the moment they start.
“Olivia” is another one of those songs that makes you try to think where you’ve heard them before, until you realise that actually, you haven’t at all. If you’re old enough, think of maybe Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson or the aforementioned Elvis Costello and you maybe get the idea. We clap along happily to, “Let Him Go” and await the imminent release of, “Caroline”.
A plea for Rihanna, clearly an inside joke falls on deaf ears, at least for tonight as we drift into what ends up being tonight’s final song as sadly, the set is cut short prematurely by wrist injuries to Freddy who has endured the frantic pounding of required by “Are You Satisfied”, before he puts a hand up to say “Enough” and there’s a frenzied rush to the bar for bags of ice cubes which are quickly applied to the offending joint. It comes as no surprise though as he’s been putting a double shift in for all of the 35 minutes they’ve played.
Still, it’s enough to give us an idea as to what Teles are all about, and it’s something really rather special. Their promotional material states, “This is a band that WILL be playing in your local venue in 2024… and who you’ll regret not being around for when they roll into town” and, Dear Reader, I have absolutely NO reason to disagree with that.
Teles played: Wishing Well, You Can’t Fall in Love for The Sake of It, Rosie, Harry & Bruce, Silhouetto, Olivia, Let Him Go, D’You Mind? Caroline and Are You Satisfied?
To conclude, a lot of attention has been paid to Independent Venue Week recently, and the need to support them, which is perfectly laudable, but we also need to remember the good folk who take the time to put the events on that keep these places alive – people like Dave Kaaria of Sounds From the Street up in Wigan and Owen Meikle-Williams with his After All Festivals, Jack and Lucia of Twisted Nipple Productions and Mark Sinfield of Bud Heron over in Hull to name but a few whose paths l have crossed and last, but by no means least.
Harvey and Jack of Anacrusis, because without them and their like, some venues would be a lot emptier than they otherwise are.