Gullivers, Manchester, UK
29th October 2016
Tonight Gullivers, renamed Ghoullivers for the Halloween weekend, is hosting an impressive four band bill of up and coming talent from across the UK, it comprises two local acts, Proletariat and Altar Flowers, Brighton’s Mantras and from across the Welsh border we have Trampolene. The bar is bedecked with cobwebs and it’s good to see Chucky is helping out behind the bar, the Halloween weekend see’s Gullivers, sorry Ghoullivers, packed out with it’s regulars, those who are celebrating Halloween and the respectable crowd who have turned out for tonight’s show.
Brighton’s Mantras are first on the bill tonight, they channel the last two decades of indie music, importantly they have their own character and bring a heavier edge to the music, which is something that lifts them above a lot of the bands that carry these influences. Their vocalist has a fine voice that is reminiscent of Tim Booth, the lead singer from James, whilst they wear their influences on their sleeves, they avoid the trap of copying the bands that came before them, which is something I all too often with bands that are influenced by the likes of Oasis and The Stone Roses.
Mantras carry that swagger that the bands that influenced them carried, alongside their original material they include a rocked up cover of Fatboy Slim‘s Praise You in their set, this works a hell of a lot better than it has any right to. Mantras sparky upbeat set of indie tunes has made a damn fine start to this Halloween weekend showcase, but their best is saved for the finale of their set. Their final number carries a touch of punkier energy and it marks the end to an impressive opening set by this Brighton quartet that are on the eve of releasing their debut EP.
Manchester’s Proletariat, not to be confused with the Boston hardcore legends The Proletariat, are next up, they are a new set of punk upstarts and are a welcome addition to Manchester’s forty year history of producing punk bands that bring something new to the genre. Proletariat channel the second wave of punk bands from late 1970’s punk rock, vocally there are similarities to the delivery of The Fall‘s Mark E. Smith when that band were at their peak but musically they are pure grass roots DIY punk rock,
Proletariat include a cover of The Stooges classic I Wanna Be Your Dog in their set, which is a somewhat unsurprising inclusion for a new band, less expected was a reverb heavy version of Nancy Sinatra‘s Bang Bang, these two covers were played alongside a set of self penned material. Proletariat have a played a contemporary take on the original grass roots spirit of punk rock and I’m looking forward to hearing the new material they’ll be recording early in 2017. This is only their third live outing but already their performance indicates that they are band to watched carefully, the crowd’s reaction to their set indicates that I am not alone in thinking this.
Both of tonight’s bands so far have overrun which mean welsh trio Trampolene take to the stage later than planned, they start with a tale of someone trying to sell them Ketamine outside the venue, they deliver a spoken word piece around this theme before they launch into a fuzzy bass driven set that encompasses the material from the four Pocket Album‘s that have been released to date. Trampolene up the energy levels further with Alcohol Kiss which appropriately seems to summon a good section of the crowd who have been queuing for drinks in the packed bar downstairs.
Trampolene are the only band that have a visual accompaniment, their set is played to a backdrop of projections from vintage horror and sci-fi movies which suits the Halloween vibe of the weekend perfectly. Every song is played with an enthusiasm and reckless abandon that makes them a band that is impossible to ignore. In addition to their established material they introduce new material into the set which given the prolific nature of their releases, they have released four Pocket Album‘s in approximately two years, comes as no surprise.
They channel punk energy and combine this with poetry and stripped down emotional numbers, a break in their set reflects this side of the band and allows for the inclusion of a few quieter numbers, including a heart rending rendition of The Smiths’ Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want. I don’t think there’s anyone out there quite like Trampolene at the moment, they have an approach that straddles the last four decades of alternative music, and for me this is a band that at this moment in time seem to be at the peak of the powers and I recommend catching this powerful and unique Welsh trio live if you can.
Sadly due to the all of the tonight’s bands significantly overrunning, which could lead to the imminent clamping of my car, I miss the final band of the line up, Altar Flowers, and I have already made plans to catch up with them later this year. What Double Denim promotions have provided tonight is a stunning and varied line up of four bands at an intimate venue in the heart of Manchester, all of this was on offer was the price of a pint and a packet of peanuts, apart from the line up overrunning I would really struggle find with fault with tonight’s show at Gullivers, if Double Denim bring one of their live events to your home town I’d recommend heading down as they are promoting some of the best new bands out there.
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
Mantras Facebook page is here and their Bandcamp is here
The Proletariat‘s Facebook page is here and their Soundcloud page is here
Trampolene‘s website can be found here
Altar Flowers Facebook page is here and their website is here
Gullivers website can be found here
Double Denim’s website is here