GIG REVIEW: Porches @ The Deaf Institute

Porches photo from @lukehollows

“This is one for the sweethearts out there tonight. You’re all sweethearts.” coos Aaron Maine, aka Porches, at regular intervals throughout his show at Manchester’s The Deaf Institute. Dressed to impress in a cobalt shirt, black jeans and spit-polished black shoes, Maine looks slightly awkward and almost too big for the stage. Yet as the band shyly assemble behind the safety of their instruments, the crowd bursts into applause and the tension is broken.

From there, it’s straight to business – ploughing through the more commercial corners of 2018 LP The House; tracks Now The Water and the recently-remixed Find Me make early, but punchy and insanely danceable, appearances. Porches have deftly set the tone for the evening: catharsis…and a boogie.

Maine endearingly acts out his lyrics, keen to get us all on-side, and the crowd need little convincing – Ono sees people shushing each other to give the frontman room to sermonise. Later, the atmosphere is reverential as Goodbye unfolds; its Jekyll & Hyde piano-versus-synth build towards a shuffle drop elicits huge mid-set roars from the floor. The band are clearly enjoying themselves, Maine’s soaring vocals uplifting and uniting this mixed crowd.

two thumbs up if you can play the cowbell

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The second half of the set is definitely more comfortable for Maine. He takes a proprietary air, introducing band members between the verses of Car as a proud parent would, encouraging the group to acknowledge their audience. Gems from both Pool (2016) and The House get an airing – all shining equally as bright, solidifying the growth of Porches’ newly synth-focused sound. The band sound tight and are seemingly as committed to having a good night as the crowd.

The encore appears to be a bold move: Maine and keys player Seiya Jewell are the only ones to reappear, this time for a stirring rendition of Country. The crowd sings along, rapt in this moment of communion. Skilfully harmonising with the audience, Maine brings the rest of the band back onstage – at which point the mesmeric trance is broken as a heckler bawls his request for a Porches deep cut. The band share a wry laugh and bassist Maya Laner quietly informs him that “Actually, half the band don’t know that song”, serving to reinforce the constant introspection and reinvention at play across this latest record.

With stellar support from local artist Hazy and his Bon Iver-esque brand of electronic indie (definitely one to watch), Porches have created a live aesthetic that perfectly aligns with their distinctive electronic balladry – tension and release, seen through the prism of wanting to go out for a good time.

‘The House’ is out now on Domino Records