Saturday, 8 October 2011

MCR Scenewipe presents... @ Kraak Gallery, Friday 7th October 2011

Now Then almost doesn’t make it to this show. Distractions are lurking on the streets of the Northern Quarter as on my way to the venue I am stopped by six very attractive Swedish girls looking for somewhere for dinner. However, the dilemma of choosing whether to commit to helping them in their quest for a fine eatery or continue on to sample some of Manchester’s finest indie rock was a decision made by my better self and therefore I find myself wandering down back streets and dodgy alleyways to find Kraak Gallery.

To set the scene, MCR Scenewipe is a website focused on supporting local musicians and touring bands alike, predominantly through filming unplugged songs in unusual locations. It re-launched last week with a lovely shiny new format, complete with news and listings. The love shared between the website and the current crop of Mancunian indie bands is on show tonight as the bands express their gratitude to Scenewipe for their continued support.

First up are The ABC Club, a band whose particular brand of indie still seems to involve borrowing from the Strokes, but with more swoons and swells. The lack of energy on stage is mirrored by a fairly underwhelmed audience and, although in places they manage to muster some guitar stylings not dissimilar to local boys Dutch Uncles, it lacks the bite and all feels a bit flat.

Second on is a band that has been attracting attention from all the right places in recent months. The Louche FC is a far noisier affair, doing all they can to fill the room with reverb soaked brooding guitars, although suffering at the hands of a PA that can’t quite do it justice.

Just when I thought I had them pinned as a girl-fronted My Bloody Valentine, they dish out a cute 50s melody that tries to disguise itself as a mean noise piece, but is actually a marvellous pop tune that lilts and shuffles along with an enjoyable ease that could almost be radio-friendly, except for the two minute outro which graciously repeats the line, “I wanna die.” Again the local love is evident as the band encourage label reps from SWAYS down the front and are evidently intent on trying to have a good time. They have a lot to be excited about; this lot have a bright future.

Next up is two-piece Ghost Outfit, who produce straight up chunky riffs mixed with backbeat drums and some very catchy melodies, all very reminiscent of PS I Love You (the Canadian band, not the romance novel or its big screen adaptation), which is no bad thing. The band do divulge themselves into one melancholic track "about being sad," but soon move on to “one that’s about being angry” and as the pace picks up their fresh inventiveness even manages to engage the crowd to the point of some hip shaking. As the band progress through their set, the energy seems to turn up a notch with each song and as the band let themselves loose the audience responds, culminating in a mass brawl type stage invasion for the set finale, by far the most enjoyable set of the night.

To complete the night was Driver Drive Faster, who are by far the most accomplished band of the evening. Their scuzzy blues based indie rock is eloquently topped off by charming vocal melodies, occasionally allowing themselves to build nicely into more raucous rock’n’roll solo sections, held down by accomplished rhythms. A great end to an evening showcasing some of Manchester’s brightest indie rock talents, all thanks to MCR Scenewipe.

Way better than dinner with blonde Swedish girls. Probably.

Words & Images: Simon Bray

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