Manchester’s mecca of live music was once the “alternative” Northern Quarter but in the past few years there has been a seismic shift. Live venues have been pushed further and further out by identikit bars playing R&B to the masses who once flocked to Deansgate or other less alternative retreats.
This pushing out of venues and spaces has seen a counter from spaces that hark back to Manchester’s industrial roots - and I don’t mean “industrial” in the terms of some “current” graphic designer.
Venues like Mantra Warehouse, Hidden and The White Hotel are proper industrial. Warehouses and spaces taking up residence among cash and carries in the industrial parks of the outer city centre. These grey and gloomy spaces are being re-purposed for one thing, and that is to host the best of live music and gigs around.
The White Hotel is a re-purposed car garage. The bar is the old mechanics pit and the shutters still take up the majority of the walls. With the addition of a huge sound-systems and an instillation of an almost revolutionary vibe, these spaces are bringing back what once made Manchester great in its musical hey day.
The White Hotel has been made the venue of choice by some of the best promoters around in its short life so far, and on this cold October Saturday it was playing host to Now Wave’s second all day event at the space. The fly-tipping hot spot/entrance to the White Hotel is located around a meandering, blink and you’ll miss it side street.
The venue, loitering in the shadows of the brutal Strangeways and an abandoned tower of some sorts across a gravelled yard, had played host to Real Lies and The Big Moon, who have since gone on to receive their fair share of plaudits, at the previous all dayer in February.
This time Now Wave welcomed a host of new and upcoming talent to a gloomy Salford. Kelly Lee Owens has made a huge impression with her latest EP Oleic. The four-tracks are clearly heavily influenced by her time working with Phantasy’s Daniel Avery and Ghost Culture – Kelly provided vocals of Avery’s Drone Logic album and James Greenwood AKA Ghost Culture is her live drummer.
Finally beginning her set after an eternity line checking, she left much to be desired as she constantly battle against sound issues, proclaiming many times for more bass. She gave outings to her 2014 track ‘Lucid’ and gave Aaliyah’s ‘More Than a Woman’ the KLO treatment.
Her brand of shadowy but resonant techno-pop from Oleic did not show itself live; instead she leans hazardously towards a watered down, Soundcloud friendly, post Bjork and Grimes tepid electronica.
Following the electronica of Owens was Japanese Breakfast, the brainchild of Michelle Zauner of Philli’s Little Big League. This project is a stray away from her emo roots and was birthed as a challenge to write 20 tracks in 20 days. She brought a lo-fi indie warmth to the October cold. Marrying a Fleetwood Mac call and response with the dreamy melodies of Warpaint, the lo-fi nature of the project fails to deliver any hard hitting hooks and mainly saunters along.
There was very much a female flavour to the curation of the line-up, Let’s Eat Grandma continued the trend. Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth are fresh from an appearance on Jools’ earlier in the week and fresh out of high school at 16 and 17 respectively. The duo have become hype thing of the year somewhat.
Pairing the electronic elements of their debut album - I, Gemini which has received plaudits across the board - with live instrumentation. the duo appeared to float around the stage, taking it in turns to jump on the multitude of instruments.
Opening up with 'Deep Six Textbook', the track opens up with a playground patty cake rhythm before the introduction of a wave-like synth that laps over the harmonized vocals of the duo. The set continues in a similar vein, the childlike naivety of the lyrics is endearing and a few mechanical blunders with synths is forgiven.
I am a firm believer of the age doesn’t matter adage; if you are good enough your old enough. Let’s Eat Grandma are definitely good enough, I expect to see them around for years to come.
Closing the day of live music were Pumarosa. Their ambitious sound is massive; building and building into a crescendo of horns, synths and robotic limbs. Isabel Munez-Newsome cuts a magnetic figure on stage, flawless vocally and acts as a humanoid visualizer for the music with her robot-like body jerks.
Currently, the five piece are album-less but with each release they are gaining a reputation for amazing song crafting ability - this was in full view at The White Hotel. Having visited Salford previously for Sounds from the Other City, Munoz-Newsome proclaimed Salford was the “best, best, best”, before entering into the final two tracks.
Latest release 'Honey' whirrs into life with a chaotic fire of noise before growing and growing. Each song stars big and keeps going. The linear pattern of the tracks could become tiresome, but currently they have a formula that under a live setting can only take them skywards.
'Priestess' was tonight’s closing track, the crowd follows in Munoz-Newsome’s path as she girates and jerks with each lyric then brutally and suddenly, without a word, the sound cuts and they leave the stage through the ocean of smoke and leave the Salford crowd baying for more. This is Pumarosa’s way and now everyone is praying for the release of that album.
Disclaimer: The article above has been contributed by the event promoter or somebody representing the event promoter. As such we take no responsibility for accuracy of the content and any views expressed are not necessarily those of Skiddle or our staff.