Live review: Gigs and Bands Society presents Into the Northern Quarter at Night & Day
Northern Quarter’s iconic Night & Day Café welcomed Manchester’s Gigs and Bands Society on February 7 for a night of music provided by four remarkably individual up-and-coming acts, music so good you almost forgot your pint cost £5.20.
Monday Moonchild (@mondaymoonchildmusic)
Donning a hat Boy George would be jealous of, Monday Moonchild opened the night with their sensual brand of neo-synth-pop – a sound made up of Soft Cell-lite drum machines, warbling synthesisers, and treacly synth-bass. The first half of their set, devoid of a backing band, was akin to a karaoke night at a gay club, but a very good (and sober) one at that.
Moonchild graced the stage with a commendable – and kind of inspiring – self-possession, enjoying their music as if they couldn’t care less whether anyone listened to it or not, peaking with a uniquely lo-fi, fuzzy take on Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)’. The second half of their set, eventually accompanied by an upbeat backing band, gave Moonchild a much-needed musical bedrock: it was here that the singer/songwriter started to display their stage presence with greater resonance.
Lyrically exploring LGTBQ+ desire, longing, identity (oh, and crystal-prompted manifesting), Moonchild’s set was a deliciously campy, electronic romp – one with a distinctly human core. Angsty teenagers discovering their sexuality are bound to lose their minds over this up-and-comer.
The confidence displayed by the night’s second act, BUFFEE, likened her to a bedroom DJ dancing alone in her room. Her palpable passion for the music she was playing, all while coolly sipping her beer and behaving as if she didn’t know she was being watched, charmed the crowd. Watching her, I was reminded somewhat of acts like Bjork and The Prodigy, although she has her own stamp entirely.
As far as lyrics went, the muffled vocals meant I couldn’t work out what she was saying – but I believed her prophecies all the same. Buffee’s set finished as abruptly as it began, with a short word from her about her next gig and a roar of praise from her crowd of new fans.
Channeling various corners of acclaimed 90’s rock, whether it be Radiohead’s Pablo Honey, Nirvana’s Nevermind, or Blur’s Modern Life is Rubbish, Plaster were a dazzling live force to be reckoned with: an eager glint in the frontman’s eye borrowed from Sports Team’s Alex Rice. He strutted across the stage, leaning over to sip a pint of pilsner from a punter’s hand, and pogoed up and down to the erratic drumbeat of set-opener ‘Sometimes’.
Despite evident grunge influence, Plaster’s sound was never macabre or overly-angst-ridden, instead opting for fast-paced, accessible indie rock ’n’ roll, with just the right amount of head-ache-inducing guitar scrambling for fans of the aggressive, avant-garde crannies of the genre to be satisfied with.
Led by bass lines that effortlessly weaved between the the rhythmic and the melodic, and cultivating in a finale entitled ‘Rigatoni’ (“What’s the best pasta?”), the sweat-drenched band left many of us at Night & Day keen to hear more… and to get a shower.
Drivers, the undoubtedly talented headline act, flipped between outstanding and clumsy – with long, cinematic-sounding trumpet and saxophone instrumentals being occasionally accompanied by vocals that didn’t quite feel like they fit with the rest of the song. I overheard the sentence “this sounds like squid” twice from separate, surrounding audience members and I’d be inclined to agree. Each member of this band’s musical talent is undeniable, yet much more audience focus was achieved by their support acts.
If any of these bands sound interesting to you, make sure to give them a follow on their respective accounts to support Manchester’s independent music scene. The verdict is in: Gigs and Bands Society have proved that we are spoilt for choice when it comes to up-and-coming artists in the belly and guts of the nation.