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The White Hotel

LIVE: The Soft Moon @ The White Hotel

WORDS BY PATRICK PRESTON      PHOTO BY ANDREI MUSAT

It should have been obvious straight away – treading through the barren industrial backstreets of Salford and traversing a jumpy security Doberman, with the imposing Strangeways tower looming overhead – that this is no ordinary polished gig venue, especially with The Soft Moon headlining. A few fenced-off smokers herald an unassuming, dingy white building, and I cautiously step inside; no hand stamps or anything like that, so when ‘you’re out, you’re out’.

Then through a final tatty wooden door, and it’s pretty striking – a harsh red mist cloaks the high-ceilinged main room, with only a ramshackle corner stage, numerous blurry, black-clad figures and a caged-off sound-desk being roughly discernible. I crack a can and try to ignore the persistent ember aroma, but I’m mostly just glad I’ve found a gig venue cold enough to keep my coat on. A DJ pumps some experimental, discordant noise, but as this evolves into a long, thrumming drone, the crowd’s disaffected hum becomes an impatient chatter. Suddenly, Chicago’s HIDE violently manifest into existence, dredging up some jump-scare strobes, apocalyptic drum sounds and hellish looped screaming; vocalist Heather Gabel’s anguished vocals and tall, tattooed, utterly demonic stage presence lift the thunderously repetitive beats and thick, bubbling tones, while beatmaker Sean Sher skulks in the background, poring over an intimidating array of gear.

The impenetrable mass of sound then slows into a scratchy, nausea-inducing soundscape, rich with texture and rhythm, before being met with a last terror-pulsing house beat. Gabel carries this energy into a reverse-Exorcist spider climb up a pillar, which just about puts a capper on this bewildering spectacle; just as quickly, the noise comes to an end, flooding the room with a sudden respite. “You can turn the lights on, we’re done,” she says, cutting through the atmosphere with a charming bluntness.

We’re running half an hour late by this point, and the crowd has carved even further into the room, fidgeting nervously to a bizarre interlude tape of sparse piano, lo-fi synths and a ticking clock. The lights have faded to an eerie, calming blue, and the members of Luis Vasquez’s The Soft Moon gingerly take to the stage. Its three members instantly snap into action with a propulsive, tribal post-punk rhythm, with Vasquez layering additional parts from a carefully-placed drum pad. “What’s up, Manchester?” he delivers in a languid Californian drawl, adding a welcome slant to the evening’s chilly proceedings. Alongside repeated enquiries of who’d win in a fight between a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla, Vasquez’s personable stage banter is both unexpected and on point – which makes sense, considering the role that naked, raw emotion plays in the project’s aesthetic package.

 

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After picking up a guitar, the crowd grin with anticipation, and are led through a series of chronological tracks through the band’s history, starting from the earlier, more primal, robotic and (mostly) instrumental; this culminates in Burn, the opener to this year’s truly excellent record Criminal, which showcases Vasquez’s invigorated confidence for densely-layered melodies and impassioned vocals. This reaches a fever pitch, with skittery percussion matched to frantic strobe lights and distorted shrieks, and the band’s busy presence doesn’t let the energy waver – instead channelling it into something more subdued and ethereal, like a slow pulverising death marches, with searing lead guitar lines and a dreary, winding bass forming entrancingly beautiful melodies from their turbulent surroundings. Some inevitable technical trouble doesn’t throw off any momentum, blurring some more visceral tracks from the most recent album with motorik jamming and a thumping drum pad duel, with one of the more blistering cuts of Vasquez’s back catalogue, ‘Die Life’, bringing the crowd into a final jerking, whipped-up frenzy – acting as an ultimate catharsis for a night of exhilarating, fractious tension.

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

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ULTIMATE PLAYLIST: International Teachers of Pop

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER

For an act that only started out of a chance back in January 2018, International Teachers of Pop have stormed the scene with supporting slot alongside legends, Jarvis Cocker and Roisin Murphy. With members from Eccentronic Research Council, The Moonlandingz and The Soundcarriers, there was never any doubt that when the three core members Adrian, Dean and Leonore united for ITOP that they would be anything short of phenomenal.

Their credibility shines through with their latest single ‘After Dark’ including a music video with award winning actress and ITOP fan, Maxine Peake.  ”Maxine is a long time collaborator with my other project, Eccentronic Research Council, so when ever I want someone to purge the daft ideas in my head and give them some kind of fuzzy artistic logic I always call on my bestest pal, Maxine. She’s the Klaus Kinski to my Werner Herzog. And although our video making budget only stretches to getting props and catering from B & M Bargains, I think we make it work for us, we always manage to pull the ship over the mountain!” Says Adrian.

On Saturday 27th October the collective finally play their first headline set at Salford’s The White Hotel, presented by local promoter Interior and supported by Londoners Los Bitchos. Ahead of the night, we managed to steal the group away and find out what their ultimate playlist would consist of if they were to pull it together. Be prepared, this class act don’t mince their words and are sticklers for a pure, out-and-out disco banger. Here we go:

Adrian Flanagan: Blame it on the Muzick – J.J. FAD

“This Dr Dre produced – electro rap party starter ticks all the boxes for me: 808 beats, pumping bass, sweet synth riffs, sarcasm, silliness. You can literally feel the sweat on the wall of the basement!”

Dean Honer: Hard Times – The League Unlimited Orchestra

“Sheffield Synthetic DNA – fantastic cut up dub mix by the genius that was Martin Rushent. Amazing what can be done with scissors and sellotape.”

Leonore Wheatley : A Camino Del Sol (Todd Terje Remix) – Antena

“I only came across these last year but this album is a party dominator. Simple, French vocals and a melody that just builds and builds with the addition of Balearic beats and harmonies. Another cocktail please barkeep!”

Adrian Flanagan: Who killed the Chicken – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

“For me, Scratch is the last of the true greats, an innovator, a scientist – a God in life form and bat shit bonkers. Long may he be the toaster with the most and the lord of the dub!”

Dean Honer: Give Me Back My Man – The B52s from Party Mix album.

“Keeping the the two girl theme going, this 7 minute party mix is ace. I love Cindy Wilsons voice especially when she sings about fish and candy.”

Leonore Wheatley: I Would Die 4 U – Prince

“I’m not going to try and go for the most obscure Prince track and sift through his back catalogue. ‘Purple Rain’ has and will always have the biggest influence on me. I would make up endless dance routines to this album, especially ‘I Would Die 4 U’. My Mum being a professional dancer, I tried my hardest to emulate her, so these ‘choreographies’ would obviously be stadium-worthy in my imagination. I remember seeing him when he played in Manchester a few years ago, I was 13 from the front (a rough estimate) in the middle of the stage and when he played this I was in that music video I created 20 years before.”

Adrian Flanagan: Miraculous Weekend – Peter Ivers

“It’s wrong on so many levels this song but it’s just so beautifully lovely. Peter Ivers’ life ended in tragedy when he was bludgeoned to death with a hammer as he slept. I like those kind of juxtapositions where you have a song so positive and almost naive but with a back story that is totally sinister!”

Dean Honer: From Here To Eternity – Giorgio Moroder

“We use quite a lot of 16th note sequences on the ITOP recordings. Moroder was the king prawn at that game. ‘I Feel Love’ is the greatest disco record ever created. But I chose this from his canon of bangers (as the kids say), because I like the vocoders and his sexy vocals.”

Leonore Wheatley: Love Like This Before – Faith Evans

“This has been doing the rounds a lot recently, it’s following me about. As I was a teenager in the 90’s, 90’s RnB was obviously going to show its face. All the backing vocals, she’s mingling all over the place, that iconic bass line. I’m putting it on again, hang on.”

Adrian Flanagan: Disco Clone – Christina

“A high camp disco classic. Your hard earned night out should be filled with total abandon, otherwise what is the point of putting up with a ‘stickleback twat’ of a boss all week? I’m literally dancing around in a rah rah skirt, doing a helicopter with my penis when this track comes on, albeit – in my head in a dark corner of the club!”

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

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PREMIERE: Chew Magna – ‘The White Hotel’ EP

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER

If you’re a commoner amongst the Manchester music scene, you’ll have heard of The White Hotel. The otherworldly venue sits in Salford, not too far from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and has welcomed the likes of many revolutionary new acts that have been embraced the culture of the chaotic venue. Unique and memorable, it makes for the perfect title of the latest Chew Magna EP, a band that wholeheartedly pours themselves into their sound and deviates from the ordinary.

Essentially, they’re a band that step outside of the box and welcome you to do like wise, with open arms. Full of energy and boasting an uplifting theme throughout any of their songs, there synergy comes through with every new release so of course, we’re excited about this one. Advocates of noise and a self-confessed ‘jam band’ concocted their blistering debut EP ‘The White Hotel’ last year in their homeland – and the EP’s namesake – The White Hotel.

All good things come to those who wait and wait we have, eagerly anticipating the first move of the four-piece. “There isn’t a plan or well
worked-out approach,” tells Chew Magna guitarist, Simon of the band’s spontaneity when it comes to their moments of brilliance. “We’re at our best
bouncing ideas around and seeing what happens.” Vocalist and guitarist, Laurie affirms; “we’ll play the same part for ages, developing it slowly. Chew Magna has a motion of its own, all we have to do is turn up to practice; the songs write themselves.”

Mixed live at The White Hotel and recorded by underground Salford label SWAYS producer, Martin Hurley (Ghost Outfit) the EP is bolstered by a raw style of that Hurley brings to all his work with grunge-aficionado sound engineer Steve Albini and captures the intimate feel of the recording. Accompanied by videos that suitable match the style of Chew Magna, this is a collection of tracks that gives us an eye into what’s to come from the pioneering young act.

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

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Yassassin

Review: The White Hotel presents: An All Day Ordeal

The raves and parties our city has seen are long thought to have died out. With Sankeys sticky dance-floors having moved to Ibiza and the Haçienda now a modern block of apartments, just a stone’s throw away from Deansgate Locks – it’d be easy to think that perhaps we’ve met our match. Perhaps Manchester’s history of psychedelic, never-ending parties is over? This isn’t true. Although we have a different Manchester scene now, we have one all the same. What we have now might not be the classics of the past but instead we have made way for: Canal Street’s endless frivolity; Northern Quarter’s hidden discos; boisterous student hub spots; Warehouse Project; Hidden; Victoria Warehouse; The White Hotel. The latter is one of our newest warehouse venues and home to a building fame for secret sets and underground artist showcases, brought to us by the latest in a new breed of promoter. These new support units – such as Now Wave and Hey! Manchester – aim to open Manchester up once more as the hub of the North for musical talent. Amongst these is Interior which, having worked together with The White Hotel, presented the first TWH festival: An All Day Ordeal.

There were whispers of a secret set from ‘special guests’ as well as a list of the latest emerging and unmissable acts including Leeds-based Autobahn who brought a Joy Division-esque Gothic twist of punk to their early morning (2am) set when feet and heads were loosened from the evening’s activities. Preludes to them were USA Nails with a heightened and provoking punk rock set, the essence of which felt expertly un-planned but resulted in a hauntingly brilliant 1am set to push those who dwindled after the excitement of our special guests. As for the special guests themselves, none other than one of post-punks most known current contenders were announced on the day of the event: Cabbage. With the atmosphere building up to the midnight set, there were high hopes for the main event. Any dash of doubt was soon wavered as, without drummer nor bassist, Cabbage were still the show-stopping act that they are known to be and as soon as word got out that the trio (formerly quintet) equipped with a drum machine were playing, I overheard rumours of friends now keen to attend The White Hotel’s notorious event.

Divide and conquer. A pared down @cabbage_band celebrate the witching hour.

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Prior to this, Phobophobes took to the stage with the entanglement of guitars and snarling frontman – their tracks astounded and helped in continuing the excitement of the night. There may have a trickle of a thought that there wasn’t a slight sense of girl power on the night but any thought of this type was blasted as soon as Yassassin headlined their slot. With tactfully coordinated outfits and an un-apologetically punk sound, their performances continue to amaze and even brought support from their friends and counterparts PINS who were seen amongst the audience. You might not have attended but it would be surprising if you didn’t hear the raw punk vibe brought by The Starlight Magic Hour.

On at 9pm, the six-piece are like a band of brothers, each mutually supporting one another and creating a raucous atmosphere brought together by the anthemic presence of their frontman of whom was backed by violinist, pacing drums and thick, deep backing vocals. Consisting of members of the more recently formed PhobophobesMeatraffle were one of the earlier acts but by no means did this make them any less brilliant. Their other-worldly take on a post-punk psychedelic mixture  has allowed them to be called “one of the greatest bands of our time” by Fat White Family. Earlier still (and presenting the evening ahead) were Yorkshire-based Drahla whose minimal punk sound blasted any idea that the other side of the Pennines is tame with their eerie post-punk collection. Reeling back to the earlier hours of the day still, first and foremost to take to the stage were MOLD who opened the night with their anarchic post-punk sound that caught the attention of any dull watcher whilst building up the pace for the night ahead. Amongst the mayhem, to keep the groove going between bands, The Beat Chics played their much-adored vinyl-only DJ set to eager party-keen attendees. Amongst the thrill of the evening which took twists and turns throughout (like any decent festival), The White Hotel was proven to be the perfect space for an all-dayer – the venue was packed out to the early hours cementing ‘An All Day Ordeal’ to be irrevocably sensational – this is not just my opinion, though, summed up with the fact that at 1am on that Sunday morning none other than Mr Mac DeMarco turned up at The White Hotel. And yes, he was lovely.

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white hotel all dayer

Preview: The White Hotel presents: An All Day Ordeal

The White Hotel has well been building a cult-like following for quite some time now, with hushes of secret sets and murmurs of the hallowed warehouse turned venue that garnishes the eclectic taste of our city. Unlike the name suggests, it isn’t a hotel – though perhaps your inner frivolity will allow you stay here for the long-haul – but is instead an old industrial unit turned nightclub. Fully equipped with a 360-degree stage and a bar like no other you’ll find above ground; The White Hotel is a hidden gem that lurks in the underbelly of Manchester, out by HM Manchester prison. Formally known as Strangeways, the prison being in close proximity to the venue holds a flag up to the atmosphere that TWH offers. Underground gigs and long, haunting nights are at the hub of the venue, lending an ear to the whispered story that it was born off the back of illegal raves that were thrown at Strangeways Studios.

One particular present event that will be held at the White Hotel – hand in hand with Interior – is their eagerly anticipated All Day Ordeal. If you venture to the backstreets of Salford on Saturday 25th (or even the early hours of Sunday 26th as last entry is 4am) you will be met by a host of individuals enamoured with this particular haunt and keen to stay at the hotel from 6pm until 6am.

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Crowded together in one building, it will be an event not to be missed by any musically-minded individual, particularly as the term “special guest” is being flashed around at an alarming rate. Besides this, locally sourced bands such as Mold, The Starlight Magic Hour and Autobahn are amongst the divine selection of performers. At an alarmingly cheap rate of ten pounds per ticket – what are you waiting for?

Full Times listed above – see you there!

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