The Castle Hotel, Manchester, UK12th May 2017
By AJ Phink
Tonight The 99 Degree are playing a triumphant launch show for their debut EP, Boot Hill Surf Club, that was released today, the 12th May 2017 and is now available via all the major streaming services and digital retailers. Tonight The 99 Degree are accompanied fuzzed up noise merchants Mold and reverb heavy surf sounds of The Echo Rays along with a heady DJ set from the lysergic side of the street by Hip-No-Tyzed. We arrive early and already Hip-No-Tyzed are spinning a selection of sounds from the dark and murky history of garage rock and on a warm sunny Mancunian evening The Castle Hotel is already sweaty as hell and the denizens of Manchester’s underground are present for the launch of The 99 Degree‘s Boot Hill Surf Club EP.
Amongst those present tonight are members of various bands as well as the curious and their established fans, and it appears that Manchester’s underground garage scene is embracing the DIY ethos ,which for me is the way forward for a scene that completely bypasses mainstream sensibilities. First up are The Echo Rays who channel the kind of distorted garage surf that belongs on the soundtrack to the best, and the worst, b-movies. Their sound sits somewhere between The Mummies and Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet and they create a surf soundtrack that makes you wish Manchester wasn’t landlocked, the only thing they’re missing is go-go dancers and an ocean.
The more I attend shows in Manchester’s underground the more I’m impressed with the originality and continued force of nature that’s on display by bands who are playing music that at best is appealing to a niche audience, but they’re up there and doing it regardless and to me that is about as punk rock as it gets. Mold take to the stage and visually appear to be cross between Alice Cooper, before his metal years, The Edgar Broughton Band and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, that assumption is swiftly dispelled as what they initially deliver is a stripped down primitive set of blues influence garage rock that descends into the insanity that the original garage rock bands delivered.
There is no thought whatsoever given to commercial viability, Mold are playing exactly the music they want to make, and like the bands the precede and succede them it’s clear that zero fucks are given, tonight is bands making the music they want to make. Their songs veer from hardcore intensity, through post punk and into psychedelia inspired grooves, often within the same song, and I don’t know what to make of Mold, but I’m pretty sure I liked their idiosyncratic set. The blend of psych, surf and strangeness that has been served up so far is the perfect warm up for The 99 Degree who are launching their impressive self released debut EP, Boot Hill Surf Club, tonight.
The Castle Hotel is rammed from front to back and they appear to be a band that are well on their way to writing their own unique chapter in Mancunian musical history, ever since I first caught them supporting Kid Congo And The Pink Monkeybirds last year there’s been an irresistible momentum that is born of self belief. The 99 Degree take to the stage resembling The Beach Boys disreputable cousins and they launch into Hey Bo Diddley with vocalist Joe Sartini resuming his role as a deranged preacher to a congregation of the converted in a rammed Castle Hotel. Tonight the sound is perfect and the underlying primitive beat of the rhythm section is perfectly balanced against the reverb and echo drenched guitar lead.
They launch into their deranged debut, the ode to preachercide that is Dead Or Alive, and to me The 99 Degree have achieved a bigger sound that allows the echo heavy Gretsch guitar riffs to stand out in a way that hasn’t previously been present at their shows, Joe Sartini seems in his element tonight whilst Phil Turner occupies an effortlessly cool position on guitar, whilst the rhythm section underpins the whole sound with a kind of spaced out detachment. To say The 99 Degree were on form tonight is an understatement as the sound, the crowd and the sweat soaked venue are the perfect showcase for The 99 Degree‘s brand of surf and garage inspired punk rock.
The 99 Degree to my ears have never sounded finer than they have tonight, they channel the original spirit of rock ‘n roll and combine this with psych, garage, punk rock and a suspicious influence that makes them a band that should be on the radar of anyone with a love for the rock ‘n roll underdogs, the bands that inevitably produce the music that makes life worthwhile. Joe Sartini shambles and shakes his way round the stage giving the impression he’s possessed of the original spirits of rock ‘n roll and you can’t help wondering if this Mancunian quartet have sold their souls and are destined to end up stood at a Crossroads with a horned character waiting impatiently in the wings.
Their new Boot Hill Surf Club EP gets is full debut, from the opening number to closing strangeness of The Pusher, the EP already sounds better than the recorded version, and it was only been released earlier today. The chaos that is The 99 Degree seem to strangely focused in their own shambolic way tonight, The Ballad Of Henry Brown was one of the highlights of the Boot Hill Surf Club EP, but it’s spaghetti western menace is amplified tonight and adds an edge to the song. The 99 Degree‘s new EP is a thing of wonder in it’s own right but for me they are band that are truly in their element live in front of an enthralled crowd in a sweat drenched venue, making tonight the perfect showcase for the new EP.
The 99 Degree are out there on their own, there are obvious comparisons to bands, but they have their own unique sound that possess the primitive spirit of rock n roll and garage, whilst at the same time embodying the fuck you attitude of punk. Something very special seems to be emerging from the primeval basements and rehearsal spaces of Manchester and The 99 Degree are amongst the most original of the denizens that occupy the alternative scene in Manchester. By the end of their set the sweat is dripping from the ceiling and the demons have been well and truly conjured from their resting places, no one is doing anything quite like The 99 Degree and for that I salute them
The Punk Site review of the Boot Hill Surf Club EP can be read here
Mold‘s Facebook page is here
The Echo Rays website can be found here
Hip-No-Tyzed‘s Facebook presence is here
The Castle Hotel‘s website can be found here
Live photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here,
You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images
The Peer Hat, Manchester, UK29th April 2017
By AJ Phink
Get Fucked is an all day, and well into the following morning, event bought to us by Atomic Catfight and Abattoir Blues Records, a combination that promises a full day of primitive rock & roll that features nine acts from the primal swamp of the UK’s underground blues, garage and punk scenes that appropriately is taking place in the basement venue that is The Peer Hat, that is located on the edges of Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter. The bands appearing at the inaugural Get Fucked festival are diverse to say the least, but all with one common goal, to deliver dirty distorted rock ‘n roll that is in no way designed to save anyone’s soul.
Get Fucked has put together a line up of punked up blues, garage, psych and punk rock that is irresistible to those of us that grew up on a diet of punks adrenaline fuelled charge, the hallucinatory elements of the garage revival scene and whatever other strange creatures emerged from the underground and promised the illicit pleasures that the original hell bound spirit of rock ‘n roll offered. Tonight’s line up includes The Hipshakes, Uncle Jane, Tensheds, The 99 Degree, The Maitlands, The Jungfraus, GUTS, Death Vignettes, Hopper Propelled Electric and music provided by the esteemed Wet Dreams DJ’s.
Get Fucked has nine bands playing each getting a half hour slot, the perfect way to organise a festival with no pretensions, just nine slots of punked up garage, psyche and blues with DJ sets playing the best tunes from the last six decades of rock ‘n roll’s dark underbelly. First up are The Hipshakes and after a brief tune up they launch into their opening slot of adrenaline fuelled garage. The energy levels are already off the chart on their first number, and then stay there. They deliver raw distorted garage that is born of the MC5 and The Stooges with a raw amphetamine fused punk edge that on occasion borders on hardcore intensity, The Hipshakes show exactly how to start a festival.
After a another short DJ set from Wet Dreams, that includes the legendary purveyors of fucked up rock n roll, The Cramps, The Maitlands take to the stage, they bring a cross between raw punked up rock ‘n roll and 60s beat that is tinged with the spirit of 77. The Maitlands have brought their sparkling self penned fucked up pop songs to Get Fucked and they build on the foundations laid by The Hipshakes by maintaining the adrenaline charged rush and combining this with a distinctly Mancunian sensibility, and already at this early stage of the day I can’t help thinking that the inaugural Get Fucked Festival is shaping up to be something very special.
The intriguingly named Uncle Jane are next, and they deliver a set of fucked up rock ‘n roll than channels The Sonics, The Mummies and the bands that populated the legendary Pebbles albums. This a rawer more primitive sound than the previous bands, and they are a welcome addition to Get Fucked and capture the spirit of the evening perfectly with bass heavy set that’s laced with lysergic guitar riffs. Tensheds follow and take Get Fucked down a different path with their intense drum and keyboard combination, but despite the lack of any stringed instruments they continue to channel the spirit of Get Fucked in a manner that makes me think of the Dresden Dolls having a head on collision with Nick Cave and Tom Waits.
Next up is the bastard blues of GUTS, a band that I made a promise to that I would catch them again when I briefly saw them supporting The Bellrays last year, it might take me a while but I keep my promises. GUTS play a set that is the epitome of what Abattoir Blues Records are about, the heart and soul of blues with the attitude and spirit of punk rock, to me they sound even rawer than when I first encountered them. They cross the experimental side of Captain Beefheart with the grunt of blues, and the cocktail is completed by a punk attitude and delivery that makes their dark intense serial killer blues the perfect soundtrack to the midway point of Get Fucked.
Hopper Propelled Electric deliver a charged alt rock set that recalls Queens Of The Stone Age, in their substance fuelled prime, combined with the primal hedonistic spirit of rock ‘n roll. Their charged set brings yet another facet to tonight’s event and as with every other act tonight you can’t help but be impressed with the DIY spirit that is ever present today. Tonight has been a credit to Manchester’s alternative music scene, the bands playing Get Fucked avoid the clichéd Mancunian references and they all choose their own influences, despite all the bands playing tonight having their own sound and style there is a common unifying theme of the hedonistic qualities of rock ‘n roll.
The 99 Degree bring a set of fucked up spaghetti western influenced garage and this is the last set they’ll play before the release of their eagerly awaited Boot Hill Surf Club EP. Ominous echo heavy tones precede The 99 Degree launching a energetic set that channels the spirit of the old West combined with the reverb and echo heavy trashy garage that makes them one of Manchester’s most idiosyncratic bands. No one else does anything even remotely close to what The 99 Degree are doing, they deliver a mutant hybrid of everything that’s worth a damn in rock ‘n roll, and for me they are the closest thing you’ll get to the untamed spirit of the garage punk origins of The Cramps.
The penultimate act is Death Vignettes who have reformed for a one off performance for the inaugral Get Fucked, they channel everything that Abattoir Blues Records are about, dirty nasty punked up blues played exactly as it oughta be. Death Vignettes make as much noise as it’s possible to extract from one guitar and drums, and they produce a sound that makes other two pieces outfits, such as The White Stripes, sound like an unplugged performance. Death Vignettes come across as nothing less than the personification of the primal howl that signified the birth of rock ‘n roll.
The final act is The Jungfraus, their set is largely culled from the impressive KRAAK album that is now available as a pay what you want download. They bring a heady element to the final set of Get Fucked, they channel sixties garage, psyche, alt rock and alternative influence to create an impressive mind altering combination that makes for a fitting finale to the live acts that have graced the first Get Fucked festival. Tonight has been perfect, everything from the venue, the friendly and good natured crowd, along with every single band that played tonight and with the faultless DJ set from Wet Dreams that was the perfect accompaniment to the tonight’s nine triumphant live sets.
There is a sequel to Get Fucked planned and I can’t wait for this to happen, as tonight has been a perfect combination of the music and attitudes that informed and shaped punk rock. For me today has possessed more attitude and rebellion than the established punk festivals, it channels the roots and captures the attitude of what made us fall in love with music in the first place. If you didn’t attend this then you should make a point of being at the next Get Fucked if you can as this will probably be amongst my favourite shows of the year. We came, we saw, we got fucked, and I can’t wait for the next time
The Abattoir Blues Records website can be found here
The Atomic Catfight Facebook page is here
Tensheds website can be found here
Live photography by Michael Maffia, you can click on any of Mike’s photos to view a slide show of the images
The 99 Degree have released their debut EP, Boot Hill Surf Club, today, the 12th May 2017, the EP features four demented garage surf punk spaghetti western serial killer tales that you didn’t know you needed. The 99 Degree will also be taking to the stage in a few hours time at the release party for the Boot Hill Surf Club EP at Manchester’s Castle Hotel.
The Punk Site review of the Boot Hill Surf Club EP can be read here
Boot Hill Surf Club is now available via all the leading download and streaming sites
Boot Hill Surf ClubSelf Released
By AJ Phink
Following on from last years impressive debut single, Dead Or Alive, Manchester’s The 99 Degree will unleash their first EP, Boot Hill Surf Club, tomorrow, the 12th May 2017, like their previous release their latest offering is a completely DIY affair that’s born of the original twisted spirit of the garage. The Mancunian quartet have been ploughing their own furrow in Manchester’s underground scene, and their latest release indicates that they are continuing to head off down their own dark and dusty trail.
Straight off The 99 Degree pick up where they left off, the opening track The Banshee delivers the western swagger that their debut Dead Or Alive carried, and it possesses a hypnotic primitive drum beat and some glorious heady reverb and treble laced guitar riffs, but it seems that Manchester psych outsiders are out to prove that there’s more in their arsenal. The haunting The Ballad Of Henry Newton Brown carries their spaghetti western hallmark but takes it into a darker place, if the opening track signified that was surf was up then this track indicated that there’s trouble in town. Losing My Mind is already a live favourite, and with good reason, it has a wonderful hedonistic surf riff that dominates this heavy slice of psyche and dementia, whilst the final track, The Pusher, takes things into darker and stranger territory than anything they’ve previously recorded
The 99 Degree occupy the same undefinable territory as The Cramps, but with their own identity rather than trying recreate another bands sound. The 99 Degree‘s mix of primitive rock ‘n roll, fuzzy garage, surf, dark spaghetti westerns, and whatever the hell else it is the fuels the Manchester quartet, creates a unique blend of influences that channels the essence of the strangeness and originality that is born of the garage. The 99 Degree are a truly original mutant surf band from a city that was famously quoted as having everything except a beach, I can’t wait to hear what they’re going to unleash on full length album.
The 99 Degree will be playing a launch party at The Castle Hotel in Manchester on the 12th May to celebrate the release of the EP
Boot Hill Surf Club will be available from all major digital retailers and streaming services from the 12th May
The 99 Degree have announced the release of their debut EP, Boot Hill Surf Club, on the 12th May, the EP features four demented garage surf punk spaghetti western serial killer tales that you didn’t know you needed, the EP will be available via all the leading download and streaming sites. Ahead of the release of Boot Hill Surf Club the band have released a stream of the lead track from the EP, The Banshee, and The 99 Degree will also be playing a release party for Boot Hill Surf Club at Manchester’s Castle Hotel on the 12th May.
You can stream The Banshee here
Tickets for the Boot Hill Surf Club launch party can be purchased here
The 99 Degree‘s new EP, Boot Hill Surf Club, will be released in the near future with a launch show confirmed for the 12th May at Manchester’s Castle Hotel. They will be warming up for the release of their new EP with an appearance at Manchester’s Get Fucked festival on the 29th April. The 99 Degree‘s debut single, Dead Or Alive, is still available as free download here
Tickets for the launch show on the 12th May can be purchased here
You can listen the teaser for the forthcoming Boot Hill Surf Club EP here
Fallow Café, Manchester, UK2nd December 2016
By AJ Phink
The Fallow Café lies to the South of Manchester, nestled inconspicuously amongst terraced housing, it has a bar and restaurant downstairs, but upstairs lies an intimate venue that is the perfect setting for tonight’s triumphant headline show by The 99 Degree. In addition to the four band bill there is a DJ set by Wet Dreams, both in between bands and then on into the early hours, that captures the mood of the evening perfectly, the playlist covers everything from sixties garage pioneers such as The Sonics through alternative and indie as well as a few punk classics thrown in for good measure, marking what is easily the best DJ set I’ve encountered at a concert this year.
Due to some of the worst traffic I’ve encountered in a long time we arrive late for the show, by the time we get into the Fallow Cafe Sam Craighan is already approaching the end of his set, but the three numbers I do manage to catch hint at a melodic indie sensibility that carries the spirit of the likes of The Libertines. They alternate between keyboard and guitar led numbers, that can carry the spirit and bounce of Britpop, or convey a more melancholy tone. Despite only catching three songs of his set Sam Craighan marked a promising beginning to an evening that showcases some of finest talent that originates from the fuzzy side of this town.
After some more fine tunes from the Wet Dreams DJ La Mode take the stage, I had no previous knowledge of them and their name didn’t suggest what I could expect. They boast a striking vocalist and what appears to be a modern day Viking on bass, rounding out the line up are two more subdued, but no less talented, members that complete the quartet. What is immediately apparent is that vocalist Millie Sproston has a stunning voice that is backed up by a soundtrack that’s informed by the proto punk and rock bands of the late sixties and early seventies, but crucially with a contemporary feel that stops them from being an anachronism in any way shape or form.
I’m finding that the deeper I delve in Manchester’s underground scene the more I realise there are some incredible bands out there, and La Mode can be added to their number. They skilfully straddle the line between rock, alternative and indie, and importantly they do it in style. Their material defies categorisation, there’s even a brief ska element incorporated into the breakdown one of their numbers. My first encounter of La Mode has made a lasting impression on me, whilst they carry a heavy undercurrent of seventies rock influence it is one that is shorn of self indulgence and excess. La Mode delivered a brief hard edged melodic set that for me makes them another band to watch in 2017.
By the time Crimsons take the stage the Fallow Café is packed to capacity, the temperature is rising and it’s standing room only, and the trio that make up Crimsons bring another dimension to the impressive bill that’s on offer tonight. Crimsons play an echo drenched psyche influenced and lysergic tinged element to the proceedings. They simultaneously channel the best of the psychedelic and garage bands, but they combine this with contemporary influences, in particular elements of Manchester’s post punk era are present in the treble laced guitar style that permeates their set, and this makes for a heady combination that, like La Mode before them, is hard to resist.
The Crimsons build on the impressive opening by the first two bands, the contrast between each of the bands that has appeared tonight’s show is marked, but rather than this being jarring the differing styles compliment each other. The heady psyche the Crimsons play seems to contain a significant influence from Manchester legends The Chameleons, especially in their guitar sound, but there the comparison ends, the Crimsons have their own distinct sound that meld influences that span the last five generations. They bring a welcome slice of paisley inspired treble laced driving psyche that brings another heady element to the mix prior to tonight’s headliners, The 99 Degree, taking the stage.
During each of the three bands that played before them Joe Sartini, the vocalist of The 99 Degree, has been down the front doing his own unique shambling dance moves and yelling encouragement at the bands, it’s this kind of camaraderie amongst the bands that typifies the good natured atmosphere that has been present throughout tonight’s show, now it’s his turn to take to the stage. I’ve caught The 99 Degree twice so far this year, supporting Kid Congo And The Pink Monkeybirds and as a part of a Psychetropic showcase, but tonight they are taking the headlining spot and the support acts, the venue and the crowd have all built up the atmosphere perfectly for The 99 Degree to launch themselves towards 2017.
The 99 Degree have bought their deranged mix of rock ‘n roll and garage, that is all delivered with a spaghetti western sneer, to the Fallow Café. They open with their heavy primitive sound that immediately has the crowd moving, and you can’t help but get the feeling that tonight’s performance is what The 99 Degree have been working towards throughout 2016. Tonight they play their own deranged hallucinogenic surf rock, but despite the influences The 99 Degree are in no way buried in the past, they, along with support acts La Mode and Crimsons, are at the forefront of the latest incarnation of bands inspired by the sounds that originated in the sixties and early seventies.
Vocalist Joe Sartini announces that “the doors have been locked and the drinks have been spiked” and this is the signal for The 99 Degree to launch into a headlining set of their unique brand of garage dementia. Songs such as Losing My Mind energise the sweaty crowd that has packed out the Fallow Café, the set varies from sinister Link Wray inspired guitar lines, embodied in the track The End Of The Line, to full on garage floor shakers. The singers shambolic stage presence is in sharp contrast to the rest of the band who hammer out the kind of authentic razor sharp rock ‘n roll that is in no way designed to save your soul or be redemptive, they are the real deal.
It’s clear The 99 Degree have stepped up a gear, something they have managed to do every time I’ve seen them, which makes them a very exciting prospect for 2017, and tonight they confirmed new material was in the pipeline to follow on from their debut single, Dead Or Alive, which sounded better than ever tonight and brought a taste of the menace of the old west to South Manchester. Tonight they announced that they will be releasing an EP of new material next year and on the basis of the songs they played tonight that will populate the forthcoming The Banshee EP then it can only be a matter of time before The 99 Degree come to wider attention and spread their wings beyond the confines of their hometown.
The 99 Degree are possessed by the original untamed spirit of rock ‘ n roll that follows in the tradition of Vince Taylor, The Sonics and The Cramps, every generation has it’s own standard bearers that embody the primitive spirit of excess and hedonism, The 99 Degree haven’t so much picked up the torch, but they’ve stolen it and are using it light a suspicious smoke. The world needs bands like The 99 Degree that carry the spirit of rock ‘n roll and garage, but they also combine it with the fuck you attitude of punk rock and the meance of a Sergio Leone soundtrack to create something that is truly unique and as a result tonight’s show indicates that 2017 could well be their year.
Sam Craighan‘s Facebook presence can be found here
La Mode‘s Facebook page is here and their debut EP is available via iTunes
Crimsons Facebook page can be found here
Dead Or Alive is available via The 99 Degree‘s Bandcamp here
Photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here,
You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images
Dead Or AliveSelf Released
By AJ Phink
The 99 Degree released their debut single, Dead Or Alive, earlier this year, they play an unhinged combination of surf, psych and garage which sounds like it originates from a sparsely populated ghost town in the mid west of America, rather than the urban sprawl of Greater Manchester in the UK. The 99 Degree have regularly been tearing up stages in the North West of England, but now those further afield can be exposed to their unique brand of garage psychosis
Dead Or Alive opens with the kind of ominous tones that usually precede a mysterious stranger gunning people down in a spaghetti western, this is a dark and deranged preacher killing murder ballad that captures the spirit of the best Sergio Leone westerns and combines this with the ghost of the original spirit of deranged rock ‘n roll. Vocalist Joe Sartini delivers the murderous tale with his transatlantic spanning vocal style while Phil Turner‘s twisted Gretsch guitar tones give the single it’s underlying menace, the whole package is underpinned by Paul Featherstone and Craig Trickett‘s rock solid rhythm section that keeps The 99 Degree‘s excesses securely anchored.
If you have any love for primitive garage bands such as The Cramps, or the original purveyors of garage and psyche that populated the legendary Pebbles compilations, then The 99 Degree are a band you need to acquaint yourself with, and as this single has been made available as a name your price download then what are you waiting for?
Dead Or Alive is available as a name your price download via The 99 Degree‘s Bandcamp here
The 99 Degree have announced that their debut single, Dead Or Alive, a dark and deranged spaghetti western, preacher killing, murder ballad, is now available as a pay what you want download via their Bandcamp. The 99 Degree have been tearing up stages in the North West of the UK, now those further afield can be exposed to their unique brand of garage psychosis.
You can read The Punk Site review of The 99 Degree live at The Soup Kitchen here
You can get Dead Or Alive as a name your price download here
The Soup Kitchen, Manchester, UK17th September 2016
By AJ Phink
The Soup Kitchen lies in the heart of Manchester’s thriving Northern Quarter, it’s a new venue to me although I do have a vague hazy recollection of visiting the venue on a previous long lost weekend. I arrive in Manchester early as the venue has adopted the increasingly common practice of concerts starting and finishing early to make way for a club night, this isn’t a practice I’m fond of as getting to the venue in time isn’t always possible. However, in an age where independent venues are under assault from gentrification and town planners I understand the need for a venue to make enough money to stay in business. I decide to make to best of the situation, and as September has remained unseasonably warm and dry I take the opportunity to enjoy a pint in the early evening sunshine and watch as the city begins it’s changeover between the post football and shopping crowds, and the nocturnal denizens who are slowly beginning to filter into the city.
Tonight The 99 Degree are playing in the basement of the Soup Kitchen, this a stripped down venue with bare brick walls and exposed pipework which sets the vibe nicely for The 99 Degree‘s brand of primitive surf inspired garage rock. Tonight is the first of a series of nights that goes under the banner of Psychetropic, this will hopefully become a showcase for local bands whose music is inspired by psychoactive compounds and the primal elements of rock n roll, if this is the case then The 99 Degree are the perfect band to play the inaugural Psychetropic event.
To my ears The 99 Degree channel The Gun Club and The Cramps whilst adding their own unique elements into the mix, the lead singer shakes and shambles around the stage and reminds of me of nothing less than a deranged preacher from the old west, the guitarist makes a glorious primitive noise from his Gretsch whilst the rhythm section hammer out a solid backbeat. I’m not sure what it is about their combination of garage rock, deranged spaghetti western soundtrack and primitive rock n roll I find compelling about them, but for me they are a unique band amidst a sea of wannabe bands that recreate, rather than be influenced by, the sounds of the past. The reverb and echo drenched guitar riffs are reminiscent of the kind of primitive noise that Poison Ivy, of The Cramps, was famous for, the vocalist has an authentic brimstone garage howl and the rhythm section provide a solid backing that keeps the insanity anchored.
The 99 Degree are one of Manchester’s most unhinged and original bands, and I’d recommend catching them live if you have any love for the garage bands that originally emerged from the mid 60s or the subsequent garage revival bands. The 99 Degree live are the equivalent of a soundtrack from a deranged Quentin Tarantino movie that was made under the influence of bad acid, they simultaneously have one foot in the past whilst making their own contemporary and demented take on garage and surf rock. The 99 Degree will be entering the studio later this year and I can’t wait to hear whether they can capture the essence of their live set on a recording, because if they can then that will be something to treasure.
The Deaf Institute, Manchester, UK21st June 2016
By AJ Phink
The Deaf Institute is fast becoming one my favourite venues in Manchester, they seem to encourage an eclectic range of acts, the staff are friendly, the beer is excellent and it boasts Manchester’s finest smoking area, for non smokers this also serves as an outdoor balcony for some welcome relief from the heat that builds up in this wonderful intimate little venue. Tonight The Deaf Institute is awash with paisley and animal print, as tonight see’s the return of former Cramp, ex Bad Seed and founder member of the Gun Club, Kid Congo Powers, to Manchester, along with his Pink Monkeybirds.
First on the bill tonight are The 99 Degree, they are a quartet from across Greater Manchester with a vocalist that resembles a deranged wild eyed preacher from the old west. They play a reverb drenched set of garage rock crossed with the soundtrack from a trashy spaghetti western. Despite having the early slot, they play a noisy set that goes down well with the sparse crowd that this slot inevitably attracts. The Fruit Tones are next up, tonight seems to be a celebration of all things garage and they play and energetic set to the slowly swelling crowd. They may resemble the cast from Dazed And Confused but they deliver an upbeat set awash with sixties swagger. They provide a fine counterpoint to the noisier scuzzier opener The 99 Degree. Both of tonight’s supports acts are further evidence that Manchester’s music scene is alive and well, there is a burgeoning underground movement boasting some excellent bands playing their own original takes on dirty blues and garage rock. It seems Manchester is continuing to produce a diverse and original range of bands, and that is something this city can be proud of.
There is no doubt who everyone is here to see, the crowd swells and the expectation builds prior to the arrival of Kid Congo Powers And The Pink Monkeybirds. There is a full on wall of fuzz produced by the three pronged guitar attack which is accompanied by a primal and irresistible rhythm. The Pink MonkeyBirds provide a visual counterpoint to the effortless cool of Kid Congo Powers, whilst he is slick and skinny in a sharp suit, they resemble a well co-ordinated 1950’s street gang. Bassist Kiki Solis plays a six string bass, as Kid Congo Powers put it “he can’t be contained by four strings”, drummer Ron Miller pounds out a primitive and relentless beat and guitarist Mark Cisneros makes his Mosrite guitar produce an incredible range of sonic vibrations, you could not ask for a finer backing band.
Kid Congo Powers exudes a weird kind of laid back mania, his in between song banter shows that he at ease and as one with tonight’s audience. The unsurpassable set the sweaty throng in The Deaf Institute are treated to encompasses his entire back catalogue, including a fine selection from his new album, La Araña Es La Vida, on the strecgth of the new songs I will be investing in a copy of the new album this weekend. They play right to the last second of the curfew, which sadly means I have to dash from the venue to retrieve my car as the final number is playing, such is the volume at tonight’s show I can still enjoy the final song from the car park. Sadly I miss Kid Congo Powers mingling with the crowd post gig, the only thing I’d have changed about tonight is that I’d have put more money in the parking meter, my only regret is that I haven’t seen him on previous tours, I can guarantee that I’ll be at the next one.
There are still a few dates remaining on the tour, if you can catch Kid Congo And The Pink Monkeybirds live on this tour you should, tour dates can be found here
The new Kid Congo And The Pink Monkeybirds album, La Araña Es La Vida, can be ordered from In The Red Records here