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Evil Blizzard


GIG REVIEW: Membranes and Friends @ O2 Ritz

Not even the warmest day of the year so far can deter the hardy, black-clad horde of mature post-punkers from descending on the Ritz for this blistering all-dayer held by legendary Mancunian punk rockers. Billed as Membranes & Friends, there’s a virtually guaranteed swathe of talent on display, going off the band’s own esoteric influences, as well as the sense of musical community fostered by frontman John Robb, cultural commentator and Louder Than War founder.

Punk’s Best and Brightest From All Across the Spectrum.

Perfectly willing to work up more of a sweat beyond that of the heat, the most intrepid gig-goers are treated to the 4.25 kick-off of upstart Norwich duo Sink Ya Teeth, who in a dual bass-and-drum-sampler setup deliver ominously throbbing beats and sparse, hypnotic disco with a sultry confidence, in a pleasingly palatable opener for the night of crashing noise to follow. Following this is the jerky post-punk of LIINES, emerging figures of the local indie and alternative scene – frontwoman Zoe McVeigh at one point excitedly reminisces of her younger nights spent in the very same venue – who burst into action with a fiery passion. The group have their fair share of followers in tonight, and they no doubt meet their expectations with relentlessly driving, robotic rhythms and disaffected, claustrophobic wails.

Next, One Sided Horse take the stage to relatively minimal pre-existing awareness, switching gears to a dark, heaving folk rock. Helmed by Evil Blizzard member Mark Whiteside, this more thoughtful side to his experimental sludge antics showcases energetic, stomping rhythms and swirling textures alongside plaintive vocal melodies and a hard-edged, gothic grit; onstage, he explains his band comprises members of indie icons Embrace, which goes a way to explain their humbly commanding onstage presence.

Next up are surreal, recently-reformed punk heroes The Cravats create an even more enigmatic scene before even playing any music, with The Shend (vocals) cutting an imposing bowler-hatted figure, as well as a man onstage whose job seems to be to sit and read the paper while eating a banana. After some brief ‘saxophone issues’, the band work a dissonant grumbling into thumping, disjointed rhythms and blood-pumping garage-punk, glowering over their enraptured audience while repeating absurdist mantras in a funhouse vocal style.

In arguably the most bizarre spectacle of the evening, 4-bass lunatics Evil Blizzard shuffle onto the stage all pig masks and blood-stained surgical garb, and are greeted by a wave of flicked up V-signs in what I can only assume is some in-joke, as the crowd seems genuinely captivated – and with good reason. Parcelling out deeply-burrowing sludge beats into a stomping drone and a deathrock jig, the intense low-end layering pushes through any ridiculousness to a crushing effect, earning the right to their maniacal onstage strutting and sardonic banter.

After hardly any time at all, The Lovely Eggs explode into life with their deliciously thick dual drums-and-guitar attack, clearly giddy at the prospect of playing (as well as having a night off – “Mum’s babysitting tonight,” guitarist and vocalist Holly Ross wryly informs the crowd). The songs’ sunny melodies, relatively simple arrangements and unrestrained psych freakouts nudge the audience into their favour, with a number singing along joyously – the reviewer included.

The Membranes.

Lastly, however, it’s the irrepressible Membranes who dole out the most severe, yet crowd-pleasing sonic punishment; world-ending noise metal riffs form a menacing swagger and glorious space-rock crescendos, matched by the otherworldly BIMM Choir, whose artistic contributions of a rich, ominous chanting help create an apocalyptic, room-filling cacophony. Robb’s demented, commanding rasp complements his wild-eyed demeanour, while keeping any shapeless noise anchored by gravelly bass-lines. It’s a fundamentally engaging performance – the choir adds a sonorous new dimension, turning the sepia-toned lilt of older track Myths and Legends into something more upbeat and accessible – and serves as a fitting capper for a night of such wide-ranging musical ingenuity.

Membranes have come a long way since immigrating from Blackpool to Manchester in the 80’s to release Crack House on the legendary record label criminal damage. What membranes present today is something rare, a matured punk rock that has aged gracefully. Something that icons like John Lyndon, Darby Crash even Henry Rollins to an extent, could not deliver. From lighting fires outside of HMV to the esoteric, metallic activism infused product they’re delivering today with the assistance of a choir.


Patrick Preston


 PREVIEW – The Ritz All-Dayer ft. The Membranes , The Lovely Eggs & Sink Ya Teeth


Independent minds meet for an independent all-dayer. Run by Interior – the promoters with a penchant for novel venues and formidable artists – The Ritz All-Dayer presents the likes of The Membranes, The Lovely Eggs, Sink Ya Teeth and other transcendent artists. Set against a backdrop, one of Manchester’s listed buildings, there’s little else this bank holiday weekend that can offer such variety within the music spectrum. Featuring LIINES, The Cravats and more, fused together with DJ sets from PINS and Beat Chics topped off with The Membranes starring the full cast of The BIMM Manchester choir in the wings – it’s a delectable day for the music fan.

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To further feed your appetite, we caught up with the wildly unique Sink Ya Teeth and The Lovely Eggs ahead of their consecutive slots at The Ritz All-Dayer to discuss what it takes to make it as an independently fierce act in today’s Instagramable, Snapchat-able world.

Playing host to the 8PM slot, the warm-up for John Robbs’ set are The Lovely from Lancaster. Having met at a music co-operative in their hometown in the early noughties, the duo comprises of married couple Holly Ross (former member of Angelica) and David Blackwell. Much to many a record label and aspiring managers disappointment, The Lovely Eggs have always been (and always will be), wildly independent. There’s little to deter them from this case and point, with the age of money-snatching publicists upon us and an enigmatic career to boot, that’s inspired by the twists and turns of “life itself”. The pair are keen for the All-Dayer, which arrives just ahead of their May tour and brings them predisposed with their new – fifth – studio album: This Is Eggland. As the name suggests, the record is a satirical point-the-finger at the mass of “bad things that are happening in the world at the moment” mentions Holly – a subliminal mockery of ‘This Is England’ and what our country has become.

The pair are known for being passionately autonomous psych rockers with a lo-fi punk edge that happen across the most maddening experiences. “Lots of weird sh**t just happens to us all the time” comments Holly as we discuss This Is Eggland and how they drunkenly left a voicemail with the legendary David Fridmann over a year ago. Fast forward a year on from said voicemail and out of the blue Fridmann got in touch and thus produced the recent album. Controversial and mightily individual, The Lovely Eggs almost weren’t here as Holly hung up her guitar with the thought that the entertainment industry eats individuals up whole and spits them out. Fortunately, her mind was changed: “I realised you can do it your own way, away from the labels, away from the greedy corporations…” and so The Lovely Eggs are fourteen years strong and passionately counting.

Ahead of the calamity of the evening but by no means, tame are another duo – Sink Ya Teeth from Norwich. Gemma and Maria met during their time in the same band. But, once that fell through, just over two years ago, the pair joined together and have been formulating their own sound of synth-driven post-punk pop fantasia. It’s danceable, jive-able and live-able music. “It’s got to groove. That’s the only requirement really.” The foolproof warm-up for the night ahead, to engage the frighteningly wonderful bank holiday feeling across the room, there’s little that can be said to put you off this LCD-Soundsystem-with-a-pop-centre combination.

They too are bringing with them an album, but this time – it’s a debut. The 10-track record was written and produced in true independent manner, from within the four walls of their spare rooms in Norwich featuring “songs about partying too hard, modern-day insecurities and narcissists, with plenty of bass-lines and synths.” Set to be released on June 22nd it features new tracks including new track ‘Substitutes’ which is soon to be released. Next up for Sink Ya Teeth are album launches at The Social in London and Norwich Arts Centre amongst and Summer festivals galore but catch them before all that, at The Ritz All-Dayer Saturday 5th May 2018.

That’s not all,  Tickets are now exclusively £12.50 for MCR readers – what more could you ask for?