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Deaf Institute

LIVE: SNAPPED ANKLES @ THE DEAF INSTITUTE

WORDS: PATRICK PRESTON 

Not even some minor guest list issues could break my resolve to see one of the country’s most interesting new psych/punk/whatever else bands, who tonight kick off their first proper country-wide tour in Manchester’s historic Deaf Institute. The large upstairs gig room – the fullest I’ve ever seen it – throbs with feverish anticipation, with a smattering of arty students and balding musos visibly excited to witness some new blood on the scene.

The hip-hop pulsing over the PA grips a woman stood near me so intensely that she carves out her own personal zone of non-stop animated dancing, leaving me wondering if she’ll have enough energy by the time the band are on; this turns out to be a taller order than expected, as twenty minutes pass beyond their listed set time (partly due to their recording of a BBC Radio 6 live session just beforehand). It’s no matter though, as, from the sheer complexity of the kitted-out stage setup, it’s clear that this crowd can appreciate the meticulous tinkering and technicality that goes into such performances.

 

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They came from the woods! @snappedankles being completely weird & wonderful.

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Almost instantaneously, a swathe of creepy business suit-clad figures with shaggy, monster-like headgear appear onstage and summon an eerie green light. The audience buzzes with a cheer, unsure of what to make of them, but a quiet yet hurried drumbeat steers them ever forwards, while snatches of warped synth noise fly threateningly overhead and fractured yelps grow in intensity. All of this builds to the explosive krautrock fury of new album highlight Tailpipe, which juggles frantically-thick bass sounds with whizzing stabs of synth; the blocky, stop-start space punk of Drink and Glide and clattering jerkiness of Pestisound (Moving Out) maintain this maniacal energy, evolving in complexity and adding accoutrements to their skeletal frames.

Mononymous (like the entire band) vocalist Austin’s authoritative, doom-laden proclamations throttle the crowd’s attention between tracks, amid scattered percussion and busy instrumental quirks. The garbled electronics of Letter from Hampi Mountain live up to its name with winding, exploratory noise over an addictively fun beat, but only prove how insurmountably hard it is to replicate the extensively detailed album recordings.

Indeed, some essential flourishes seem to be lost in the murky haze, drowned out by the thumping low-end percussion mixing; this doesn’t limit any joy to be found in previous album hits I Want My Minutes Back and Hanging with the Moon, however, which embody a slightly less polished, but more anthemic form of the group’s jittery musicianship.

Despite bringing it back around with new record Stunning Luxury’s lead single Rechargeable, which cranks up its tempo in impassioned bursts, the band do let slip the odd moment of mumbling lifelessness – no doubt attributable to pesky first-show-of-first-proper-tour nerves. After another slew of numbers skirting grungy psychedelia and unpredictable experimentalism – replete with a devastatingly cool vintage organ sound – the group cycle through an unintelligible roll-call, but this couldn’t matter less to the audience, who bubble over into a rapturous frenzy. “We’ve worked so hard to get out of London,” Austin implores at one point, clearly appreciative of their lively Northern reception.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: whenyoung @ The Deaf Institute

WORDS BY MATTHEW PYWELL

Irish trio whenyoung have come a long way since their debut single back in 2017. Just over a year later, the band have released their first EP – Given Up – and 2019 will see the release of their debut album. I recently caught up with the band ahead of their show at The Deaf Institute, to feed my curiosity about the intriguing indie pop/rock group.

Initially hailing from Limerick, the band members Aoife Power (vocals/bass), Niall Burns (guitar) and Andrew Flood (drums) bonded over their mutual passion for music and art. However, the formation of the band didn’t start until they moved over to London. I wondered whether the contrast between Limerick and London was a culture shock for the band, “It was in the sense that the city we’re from is really small and coming to London, you forget that you don’t have to say ‘hi’ to everyone on the street, and actually you probably shouldn’t because they’ll think you’re really weird” Aoife replied. “Where we’re from, if you’re walking down the road and there aren’t many people on it, you’d probably salute the person”. Moving to London gave the group a chance for a fresh start, “it felt like a holiday for a long time”, Niall revealed.

When asked about the benefits of immersing yourself in different cultures, the band are all in agreement about its importance and see London as a hub for multiculturalism, “It’s amazing to experience different cultures within one place, you can go to an area of London, walk down to an area with Turkish shops, there’ll be Ethiopian restaurants, and you can just soak that up” said Niall.

 

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❤️💙💛 pretty pure 💛💙❤️

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One of the most famous people to come out of Limerick was Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, who tragically passed away last year, whenyoung were performing at Shane McGowan’s birthday on the day she passed, “it was such a weird night, all these Irish artists were brought together and we got the news just before we were going on stage”. This was part of the reason why whenyoung released their own cover of The Cranberries song Dreams, a poignant rendition with an obvious sense of respect and gratitude towards the original.

A marker of just how far the band have come since moving over to London, is the fact that they were asked to perform at the Barbican recently, to celebrate Irish artists making a name for themselves in the UK. “we were quite surprised when we were asked to do that, because a lot of the musicians were of high esteem, in the Irish traditional scene, which we wouldn’t necessarily feel that close to, the talent on the stage was amazing”, Niall told me. A huge passion of the band is their interest in fashion, not high-street fashion but finding outfits that make them stand out in the crowd, usually sourced from charity shops. As they took to the stage at The Deaf Institute, they certainly look the part, Aoife illuminated under a spotlight, contrasting her black blazer and trouser combination. Niall has chosen the same blazer/trouser combination but in a startling bright yellow, while Andrew heads towards the drums in a bright orange boiler suit.

One of the first songs played is Pretty Pure, a track which encapsulates the nature of a lot of whenyoung‘s discography, in that there’s a veiled disguise of joy over melancholy lyrics. “Don’t think I’m human anymore”, reverberates around The Deaf Institute on the track’s chorus. One of the night’s highlights is Heaven On Earth, a track which is pessimistic in nature but through its soaring hooks, manages to add dynamism to the live set.

Their latest single release, Never Let Go is all about remembering that there’s hope, even within the most trying of times. “I think with a lot of our songs, they’re about quite sad things but we always try to bring hope to the subject and in a way they’re all personal affirmations and we want them to connect with other people. The best books and songs are the ones that stick with you, the ones that have moved you and made you feel inspired” Aoife told me.

In addition to the release of Never Let Go, the band also released a run of t-shirts to help raise money for Mind charity. “We contacted them because we wanted to support a mental health charity because we’d lost a best friend to suicide”. The song has whenyoung‘s most uplifting hook, it achieves the desired effect of bringing hope, the kind of track I’d want to hear just as I was finishing a marathon. The set is slowed down for Sleeper, the backing track is simplified and this gives a sense of introversion to Aoife’s vocals, adding an extra air of vulnerability to her performance.

They then go on to play The Others, a song which was written about the Grenfell Tower fire and probably the band’s most far-reaching and socially conscious track to date, it pays a closer homage to one of their biggest influences, The Clash. I’d be interested to see whenyoung write more politically engaged songs. The set finishes with Given Up and the difference it holds to the recorded material is that the verses feel darker, and moodier than ever, while the chorus is more euphoric a suitable ending. I asked the band how they wanted people to feel after their live show and Andrew replied with, “we want people to feel a sense of euphoria or to be crying while laughing”. That bittersweet sensation is definitely felt and their fans definitely feel a connection to the themes of the various tracks.

A couple of new songs were debuted as well including Future and In My Dreams, the former seemingly encapsulating that overlapping sense of optimism that whenyoung seem to be imprinting within their brand of indie-pop. The band are all set to release their debut album this year and I recommend you keep your eyes peeled for its release!

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LIVE: Skegss @ The Deaf Institute

WORDS BY EMMA LANGFORD

Skegss performed at The Deaf Institute in Manchester as part of their UK tour for their debut album ‘MY OWN MESS.’ We caught up with them beforehand and they seemed really stoked about the show: “The Deaf Institute is one of our favourite venues alongside playing on Thekla, a venue on boat in Bristol.” Now to the Manchester gig, there’s a huge disco ball in the middle of the dance floor and speakers along the right wall giving the quirky venue a feeling of intimacy.

The audience consisted of an edgy young crowd largely dressed in beanies, baggy tops and converse taking us all back to our youthful indie rock days. Skeggs had amazing stage presence and knew how to please an audience, mixing with their fans before and after the show. Toby, on the bass guitar, was absorbed in the music straight away, he went from calmly sipping a beer to aggressive head banging to their fresh new tunes from their album ‘My OWN MESS.’ They mixed up their set with some of their older classics.

Everyone was singing along to their most notable tunes ‘Got On My Skateboard’ and ‘L.S.D,’ which had the whole crowd moving. ‘Spring Has Sprung’ was a crowd favourite from their EP ‘Holiday Food,’ the bass of the guitar, beat of the drums and Benny’s fresh vocals got everyone moshing. Before they played their track ‘Couch party’ Toby explained it was about him not wanting to go to a party and wanting to chill on the couch with his girlfriend.

 

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@skegss ❤️

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This tune is anything but a relaxed night in on the couch; the drums in this track were upbeat and heavy and Benny’s brisk, rap-rock lyrics brought a new energy to the room.  At the end of the set, lead singer, Benny crowd surfed whilst playing his guitar in true rock n roll style. Skegss undeniably captivated their audience through their authentic tunes and pure love for music, the crowd were committed fans all of them singing along to every song and dancing to every tune.

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LIVE: Kojey Radical @The Deaf Institute

WORDS BY DALE BURGESS

Two flawless albums, a seemingly endless wave of solid EP’s and singles, countless live shows and bustling festival circuits in between; at the age of 25, North-East Londoner Kojey Radical already has an impressive musical trail of splendor behind him and there is no doubt that his current ‘CAN I SPEAK’ tour is just the beginning for him.

Hailing from a poetry background, Kojey twists and morphs the atoms of spoken word, grime, hip-hop and RnB, to birth a truly stand-alone sound unparalleled by anything before him. His raw passion, straight talking grit and brutal honesty collides emphatically with his wit and positive energy, resulting in a live show to be reckoned with.

With the vibes inside still on a simmer, all the energy was bursting from the stage as Coventry based grime artist Mugun opened proceedings with half an hour of cleanly delivered bars and quick-fire flows, setting the tone for the evening. Singer-songwriter Etta Bond followed, whose smooth harmonies and a silky presence that put a different flip on the room in the best way possible. Particularly when she performed her hit-track ‘Surface’, inviting onto the stage young rapper Little Ralph, who participated in an Instagram challenge set by Etta called ‘#surfacechallenge’, designed to get her followers to create their own versions of the song to promote expression. There was a warmth in the room and the mood was set for the headliner.

Kojey Radical’s degree in Fashion Illustration instantly became apparent as he leapt on stage in double denim, rocking a military-style beret to match the militant performance that was about to follow. The late venue change from Gorilla to The Deaf Institute was a blessing in disguise, as the more intimate space catered brilliantly for a man who wears his heart on his sleeve for all to see.

The first hour or so encompassed tracks from his first album, with spoken word recitals, all the while laced with humble anecdotes about his life, his history, his unexpected path to musical achievement and his inspiration from lost loved ones. The audience was encapsulated as the lines were blurred between the stage and the crowd. In typical Kojey Radical fashion, he announced to the crowd that he had created this docile atmosphere so that it would seem all the more emphatic when he started delving into his bangers, sparking laughter amongst the dance-floor – he wasn’t lying.

The denim jacket was off and before you could say ‘RADICAL’ the whole room evolved into pure dance and energy. One by one he reeled off crowd favourites, namely ‘Water’ produced by jazzy dubstep artist Swindle featuring guest vocalist Mahalia, whose shoes were eagerly filled in her absence by the receptive crowd singing her verse word for word.

Other highlights included ‘Moods’ – an intense, punchy lyrical track taken from his latest album ‘In Gods Body’ and ‘Soak It Up’ – his emotional yet uplifting collaboration with garage legend MJ Cole. The power of Kojey’s single releases were also demonstrated when energy-track ‘If Only’ sent the crowd, the stage and the whole live band into a frenzy, before rounding off with his recent release ‘97’- a fresh bouncy feel-good rhythm to polish off a faultless show. Manchester was the second leg of the ‘CAN I SPEAK’ tour, so if you get the chance you won’t regret catching Kojey at either Birmingham, Leeds or Bristol before the tour rounds off in London on 20th Nov.

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LIVE: Easy Life @ The Deaf Institute | 08.11.18

WORDS BY TIM MOONEY       PHOTOS BY ROBIN HARDMAN

There’s something really quite special about watching a band that is made up of genuinely talented musicians. Easy Life certainly are one of those bands. I had reached a point where I was starting to get bored of new indie-guitar bands who pumped out reverb heavy guitar-riffs accompanied by lyrics aimed at forsaken youth hunting for solace in the B-sides of lesser known EP’s. Then I heard Easy Life. I was instantly hooked by the unexplainable uniqueness of their tracks and the honesty behind their lyrics. I knew that this was a band to pull me out of my indie slump, so the prospect of seeing them perform live filled me with hope and excitement.

 

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Living the Easy Life (sorry for stealing ur pun Molly)

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They confidently brought a mix of chilled out indie beats and musical splendour to their sold out show at Manchester’s Deaf Institute, kicking off the gig in a dramatic style before walking on stage one by one and assuming their positions behind a range of instruments. Within the first song of the evening it was made very clear to me that this was a band consisting of multi-talented musicians, with the guitarist initially taking to the stage on the bass, and the bassist immediately unleashing a soulful solo on an electronic wind instrument mimicking a clarinet.

Before long the guitarist and bassist were back to their primary instruments and the front-man wandered on stage in a pair of baggy khaki trousers and an oversized yellow t-shirt. Easy Life had a very relaxed and edgy style about their performance, and weren’t afraid to show how excited they felt to be at the Deaf Institute with giant grins and frequent waves to the crowd. You could be forgiven for assuming that this was a band that had performed many times before, but their Manchester show marked the second leg of their first UK headline tour, and they were absolutely nailing it.

I enjoyed seeing the range of instruments that they used which kept the eyes wondering constantly from member to member in an attempt to keep up with the sounds they were creating. Sample pads, drum pads, synthesisers, modulators, saxophones, trumpets; all used tastefully so as to complement the performance rather than completely distract from it. Mid way through the set the front-man addressed the crowd, dedicating his next song to a friend that had moved to California and warning that the show was about to take a sad turn. This was immediately followed by a mellow new track, consistent with the melancholy vibe that had been laid out for this brief period of the show.

 

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@easylifemusic 🕺🏻

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After this, the band flipped the mood by breaking in to upbeat and popular track ‘Pockets’. The excitement surrounding this track was matched by the front-man who hopped off the stage and onto the bar, getting closer to the crowd and delivering his laid back vocal style from the counter where people had been buying their cans of Red Stripe. He then announced “I’m meant to be playing the keys right now” before hopping back on stage and returning to his central spot behind the keys he had temporarily neglected.

They closed the show with one of their most recently released tracks ‘Nightmares’ and urged fans to come and have a chat with them at the merchandise counter afterwards. To anyone who did decide to have a chat with them: remember that moment, because this is a band capable of selling out much larger venues in the future.

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LIVE: Acid Mothers Temple @ Deaf Institute | 09.11.18

WORDS BY PATRICK PRESTON       PHOTOS BY TY KELLEY

Trudging through the ghostly silence of the ornate Deaf Institute staircase, I sneak a glance at tonight’s downstairs bar punters – the laughter and frivolities betraying an obvious innocence of the momentous meeting of psych-rock spirits whispering above. The legendary Japanese experimental noise group Acid Mothers Temple certainly still pull a crowd well into their 23-year existence, and tonight’s stop on the ‘Electric Dream Ecstasy’ tour is no different; the venue’s main room is packed to the rafters, with all inches of the unique back-room seating area looking uniformly filled out through the aromatic, sweat-inducing haze.

 

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acid mothers temple

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Assembling into a tight stage formation – and half dressed like space warlocks – the band graciously and quietly thank their audience, noting that it’s an honour to be chosen as tonight’s entertainment over the King Crimson show taking place at Bridgewater Hall, in a decision that will not have come lightly to most here.

Some distant, spacey chords and an ominous vocal build into wailing guitar and virtuosic, scattered drumming, with the spectral Higashi Hiroshi’s twisting synth parts lending an additional air of disconcerting tumult. Ringleader Kawabata Makoto teases this with bursts of guitar noise, which calm into a monolithic drone, before once again speeding into a frantic amorphousness, with relentless percussion bubbling underneath. This acts as naught but a warmup, however, with the cape-wearing Jyonson Syu cutting through the post-applause silence with a haunting bouzouki line and a dismal vocal, summoning the epic ‘Dark Star Blues’ – before the quintet delicately shimmers into thunderous sludge rock riffing.

Played masterfully straight, a mid-point breather is punctured by a rollicking drum solo from percussionist Satoshima Nani, which powerfully wrests and skitters around the kit before melting into a sparse, airy disco beat. At this point the enigmatically-named bassist Wolf joins in with a rigidly pulsing two-note octave melody, worming its way into listeners’ skulls for what seems like an eternity, before the group breaks into the hypnotic, sun-dappled guitar line of ‘Pink Lady Lemonade’, which elicits a faint murmur of crowd recognition.

Again, the melody is carried throughout alternating periods of psych-rock blowout and relative, trembling calm, but its full return holds an ultimate sense of triumph; the looping, nestled guitar part provides a backdrop for spoken band member introductions, handled with genuine delight and humility, as well as the requisite applause, before reprising the harmonious noise alongside intricate, pin-pricking bass-lines and intensely furious drumming.

The night’s coda is summoned with a melodious synth line, which is met with instrumental matching and Syu’s languid vocals, yet anchored by galloping percussion, and stretches off into the unending night. For better or worse, the thick, overdubbed noise which has for years typified Acid Mothers Temple becomes unmasked in extraordinary live settings such as these, where the band’s sheer instrumental mastery and generous showmanship can’t help but shine through the haze.

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LIVE: Franc Moody @ The Deaf Institute | 17.10.18

WORDS BY GEORGE LINCOLN      PHOTOS BY JACK KIRWIN

Anticipation loomed as curious music fans gathered to await the funky sounds of London synth-pop collective Franc Moody. Arriving in Manchester off the back of a string of shows, initially supporting Friendly Fires followed by a run of festival appearances, the group are on fire at the moment. Fronted by Ned Franc and Jon Moody, they set out on their first UK headline tour- hoping to wow the niche fan-base they have acquired through their DIY sound.

The colourful yet simplistic stage set up at The Deaf Institute allowed for the two openers, Darcie and Patawawa, to pave the way for the London collective, who, straight from sound check, opened with ‘Yuri’. From the initial melodic bassline oh so prominent throughout all of Moody’s sound, the band effortlessly glided into their jam, enticing the crowd and setting the pace for everything else to come.

Flowing through their set, providing an extremely energetic performance, Moody played their highly addictive, atmospheric songs that captivate an audience and often leave the band fully overwhelmed by the response they receive. ‘Pheromones’ highlighting their personality with their infusion of soul seeped funk evidently influenced from fellow Londoners, Jungle; while ‘Hypnotised’ creates the underwater feel so often apparent throughout the work of Porches.

 

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@francmoody ya groovy set of bastards ya!

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With a set that so elegantly passes through every song, where each strategically-placed fill creates a different groove or sense of euphoria, accompanied by simple and catchy lyrics, it’s hard not to fall in love with the music Franc Moody plays. Highlights of the set however, came in the form of the penultimate song ‘Dance Moves’, and the beautifully worked encore ‘In Too Deep’, started by smooth RnB vocals reminiscent of Jorja Smith.

This diverse group of talented musicians provide a high tempo live performance full of excitement, electricity and creative flair, and react to the crowds every move, who in turn, can not help but love the unforced chemistry radiating from the stage.

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LIVE: slowthai @ Deaf Institute – 17.09.18

WORDS BY PABLO BLANQUITO

A sold-out venue, security on the door the tightness of which The Deaf Institute had seldom seen before and a baying over-excited crowd of youngsters. Welcome to slowthai – the live experience.

 

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Slowthai Manchester 🔪

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Having had his name continually mentioned by pretty much all the young influencers in the grime/hip-hop scene it was intriguing to see if Northampton’s shining light would translate in Manchester – which is home to some of the most vibrant music in those aforementioned scenes right now.

So to see Black Josh on stage killing it in a supporting capacity and that echoing throughout the building, with the likes of Chunky, Sangy and Chris Amor in attendance, showed that this cities scene and its luminaries support what Tyron Frampton and his DJ and Hypeman President First are bringing to the table.

Tyron is famous for raucous performances which involve stripping down to his underwear and crowd surfing, all of which occurred here. However what struck most was his raw, vibrant energy and his control of the crowd, its movements and emotion. The show was conducted at a frantic pace. With a massive percentage of those attending singing back every word to tracks like ‘Drug Dealer’, ‘TN Biscuits’ and ‘North Nights’, he seemed genuinely taken aback by their knowledge and passion.

Numerous mosh pits formed and fell, encouraged by those on stage and eventually both slowthai and President First jumped into the crowd and got involved themselves. No one could remain impassive as we were all passionately implored to join the living breathing mass in no uncertain terms.

Manchester’s grime royalty in attendance, who all actively and loudly shouted their delight at the energy and vibe throughout the show, all got involved as requested. This helped create a crazy kinetic energy and undeniable feeling of unity in the room. Thai and his DJ conducting the crowd at times like a radical political figure.

Although the crowd was 80% male, at one point as tradition dictates, “all the ladies” were summoned forward to join him in his rendition of his track ‘Ladies’ this being the closest it got to tender emotion all night.

As the moshers bled and were trampled for their troubles, the tempo or ferocity never let up. At one point President First jumped onto the balcony. Shirtless, balaclava on, screaming at the crowd. Asked to get down by security, he responded by refusing on the grounds that ‘only he was liable for his safety’. In an odd way, this served as an emblem for a night of visceral, thrashing energy.

It’s fair to say that what went down over those two hours from support through to main act was nothing less than inspirational for those in that crowd and those on stage who often felt like one entity. The future of the genre is adapting in front of our eyes and it looks in capable hands on this evidence.

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LIVE: Soccer Mommy @ Deaf Institute | 05.09.18

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER      MAIN IMAGE BY IAIN FOX

There’s something in a name. Soccer Mommy conjures up the idea of the all-American-dream, two undoubtedly American words combined to title an artist that grew up in Nashville. You’re seeing stars and stripes right? The reality is close – in terms of the colloquium, not political opinion (we’re not going into the Trump debate here). Taking to the Deaf Institute stage, Sophie Allison AKA Soccer Mommy cuts a cool, relaxed figure with a treacle-thick Tennessee accent and heavy, flared GUESS branded jeans. A sold out show and backing band in tow, 5th September was set for a dream of a gig.

Support came in the form of an equally mesmerising songstress. Brooke Bentham has the transcendent vocals of someone who’s lived a thousand lives. Easily compatible to Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, Bentham has an edgy Northern twang, which caught the eyes of the equally northern Bill Ryder-Jones. BRJ recently produced the latest single ‘Out of My Mind’ for the North Shields native (just outside of Newcastle, for you to determine the accent). Playing it on the night, Brooke falls into a complete game-face that sees her transfixed on the back of the room. ‘Out of My Mind’ bellows with what Ryder-Jones is known for – stand-out tracks which use instrument to emphasise the voice of the singer. Applauding it even. Each and every time she has this same gaze that comes across as tried and tested for a singer that knows exactly what she is doing. Feature tracks ‘Losing, Baby’ and ‘Have to Be Around You’ stand out as ethereal, fanciful alt-rock singles that capture your heart and your head. It’s almost too much to handle knowing that Brooke Bentham is just 21 years old. A triumphant singular figure on stage, Brooke is the prime opening act for the Tennessee main event.

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@soccermommyband 🖤❤

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Soccer Mommy then takes to stage. Having been filling up during Brooke Bentham, the whole room is now completely packed – perhaps a little over sold but still, the room is at least full of admirers. The setlist is complete, with some singles that call for an acoustic setting for Soccer Mommy, standing solo on stage for ‘Still Clean’ and ‘Allison’. Before the encore – of course there’s an encore – the complete band are back together for ‘Scorpio Rising’. A track from the heart of Sophie, that possibly we all know too well: about playing it super cool with a person of interest and then suddenly realising you’ve taken this imitation too far and they’ve fallen for someone else, in a softer format that provides warmth compared to your false icy-ness.

A stand-out track which was met with most of the room lip-syncing every word back to Sophie was the equivocally powerfully ‘Your Dog’, about emotional abuse thrust forward during a relationship. The video for the track features Allison with her guitarist and boyfriend Julian Powell, as she parades his lifeless body around a city, as she traces the vocals about not wanting to be a possession of someone else. No longer being able to be consumed by another person:

“I DON’T WANNA BE YOUR LITTLE PET
AT THE EDGE OF EVERY BED”

Mid way through Ashley and band play a sure-fire cover of a Bruce Springsteen track ‘I’m On Fire’ that’s slots into the setlist perfectly and is equally appreciated by the audience. Ahead of playing the track, that thick accent leaks with: “I always said I wasn’t going to release this cover” but thankfully she soon will be. A fresh EP due to be released in October was promised by the singer, met with an applause from the crowd who no less than adore her sound. One member of the audience jokingly responds in a strong Northern English accent “that’s bloody lovely” to counteract her deep-south American echo. Easily a woman it feels you could get along with, Sophie of course finds this hilarious and repeats “we love Manchester”. Manchester also loves Soccer Mommy – as shown by a sold out gig.

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I COULD ALMOST TOUCH HER

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A sombre track takes hold for her encore, in the form of ‘Waiting For Cars’. A delicate record that isn’t one of the most discoverable tracks by Soccer Mommy, but all the same equally as majestic and passionate as her other songs. Her lyrics for her work are beautiful, poetic segments of her own life. Trying to figure out what’s real, where each bit slots and generally aiming to understand where different people stand with yourself as a person. She’s an artist for the coming-over-of-age, those who have endured and those who want to learn more.

Check out more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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LAUV manchester

IN CONVERSATION WITH: Lauv

Lauv A.K.A Ari Staprans Leff is your latest installment in luscious LA pop with a gooey, heartfelt centre. We caught the twenty-three-year-old ahead of his sold-out set at Manchester’s Deaf Institute, on his first ever visit to Manchester – in amongst his sold-out UK tour. A rising star if ever we’ve seen one, Lauv has already toured with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Louis The Child and although he’s aspiring to even higher ranks, is still humbled by the chances he’s been given.

Speaking of the moment that Ed got in touch, Ari is instantly excited mentioning that @teddysphotos got in touch via Instagram after spotting him on the social media app. Teams got in touch, the two singer-songwriters met and the next thing he knew, Leff was supporting the megastar on the Asian leg of 2017’s huge ‘Divide’ tour.  A self-made man, Ari flips between New York and LA nowadays having grown up in a similar fusion of states. At the age of eighteen, Ari moved to the Big Apple to study Music Technology at New York University after a youth combined in the Californian sun of San Francisco and Pennsylvania (the state just below NYC). “I’m the singer-songwriter turned producer nerd” comments Leff of his decision to study a course a small world away from his talent as a songwriter. The course and Ari’s natural skills have led the musician on to producing songs, including smash-hits for superstars including Demi Lovato with Cheat Codes ‘No Promises’ and Charli XCX’s eponymous 2017 hit, ‘Boys’. Now on his own path, this Summer sees the stars align for the American-with-maternal-Latvian-heritage, as Ari (meaning Lion in Hebrew) closes Postivius festival (in Latvia) under his stage name Lauv (meaning Lion in Latvian) alongside countless other European festival appearances. (Dare I mention that he’s also a Leo?)

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“A Young Chris Martin”

Somewhat surprisingly when compared to his solo music, from the days as a fleeting teenager in the state of Georgia, Ari found a love for music listening to “a lot of emo tracks” from the likes of heavyweights Green Day and My Chemical Romance. He felt the lyrics resonated with him, kickstarting a desire for creating music – and also probably matched his angsty teenage hormonal mood (as I know they did for me!). Currently, the likes of Mura Masa, Phoebe Bridgers and Cashmere Cat are favourites for the youthful LA native but in a lifelong manner, Leff states Coldplay’s Chris Martin as a constant inspiration – what a compliment it must be that Australian tabloids have titled him ‘a young Chris Martin’! Listening to Lauv singles alongside those by his favoured artists, you can hear a clear correlation between both, showing the influence Ari takes from the modern musicians – the likes of hit singles Paris In The Rain and Chasing Fire are clear examples of his earnest lyricism twinned with accelerating, upbeat pop instrumentals that sound like you’ve thrown them all in a blender. Outcome? A fresh, intelligent, feel-good, bubblegum-pop taste. When asked to describe his sound though, Ari wasn’t sure how to answer. So many of his records are crafted similarly, but with a different undertone. But in tangible form, it was agreed that his music is watermelon-like – connected to the brightly coloured, carefree LA pop sound but with a heavy, weighted depth in theme and practice.

During any free time that he has, Ari is Ari and enjoys life between LA and NYC (though predominantly the former) for all it’s worth “with a margarita in hand…” There’s a stark contrast between the two states that the young artist has noticed and describes as both a blessing and a curse: “in LA you’re surrounded by actors, models, directors whereas in New York everyone looks out for themselves.” This variance in culture brings with it a thriving energy-boost as far as the Californian city is concerned, with inspirational people strolling on every sidewalk. However, with this also comes the overwhelming ‘if-I-meet-another-creative-I-will-throw-their-script-at-them’ feeling, in which case Leff escapes to New York where the dog-eat-dog nature of the city allows anyone to simply thrive on their own merit and “do their own thing”, but this soon is met with an ‘I need some inspiration’ feeling and LA calls, again.

We’re big fan’s of Lauv at MCR Live, and you can normally catch him on the station. To follow our Playlists and find out what we’re listening to at the moment, head here!

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