Designer Magazine 8th Birthday Party - Part 1 ft. The Boy Majors / Carlis Star / Giddy / FDA
Night & Day Manchester - 5.6.07

It was 8 years ago that Designer Magazine first started up and now stronger than ever the Manchester based music website is known as much for its gig promoting as it is for a publication. In recent years we've brought bands such as The Tigerpicks, The Cardinals and Orphan Boy to the epicentre of Manchester's music scene and were the first to spot the talent of Dear Eskiimo who are now that little talked about band The Ting Tings. As ever though with Designer Magazine the birthday celebrations aren't about looking backwards, but are about looking to the future of Manchester music and if on paper a line up like this it couldn't fail, the reality was even better.

Federal Drugs Administration are the work of pure genius taking in everything from Clockwork Orange to Frank Sidebottom via the polemic of Chumbawamba, Carter USM and the Manic Street Preachers. Down a bass player for their first gig, who apparently broke his arm dancing around like a tw*t to Kylie, the band are about keeping music live which in their own world means pressing play on a CD player and shouting over it. London is so shockingly full of c*nts, Beyonce gets ripped for wearing fur while Love Song No1 is about following through during sex. By the time it comes to Asbobot drummer Hadyn has taken a quick siesta to eat his lunch and the whole madness continues. With most of manchester looking back to Shaun Ryder and the late 80s, FDA are a strikingly original and anarchic madness not seen in Manchester since the days of Chloe Poems and the Divine David.

Giddy follow in the footsteps of The Tigerpicks and The Tings Tings as part of Nu-Manc-Pop. They're the sort of band that Smash Hits should start republishing for and have songs so good that Kylie will probably start making midnight calls asking for help on her new album. Centred around frontwoman Lou Giddy its impossible to tell this is their first gig but with members of Little Engine making up the cult-manchester supergroup they're a collective of the best musicians in the city. Taking in everything from pure Motown pop to the sounds of Dubstar the music lives up to the name and looking around the venue they're bringing huge smiles. "She Doesn't Love You" and their signature tune "I Got Giddy" have hit written all over them while "Stainless Star" and "The Ground Zero" hint at something more inventive. Just when people were thinking pop was a dirty word, Manchester is fighting stronger than ever for the good ship pop.

Carlis Star are one of the longest ever overnight success stories in Manchester right now. After spending years in home studios amassing a huge collection of songs they played their debut gig for Designer Magazine last November. Within weeks of their debut XFM Manchester booked them in for a session, NME were shouting their praises and a sell out show at the Manchester Academy saw bootleg t-shirts being sold outside the venue. Coming back to what they know best the Carlis Star that Designer Magazine have moved on light years from that debut gig and whereas that first gig was wall and wall of spectacular white noise with melodies peeping through, now they've honed in their sound to something which takes in the pure-pop of Ash as well as the soundscapes of Sonic Youth and Flaming Lips. In fact the shows that Carlis Star put on with a dazzling array of lights are probably not dissimilar to what Wayne Coyne would put on with a budget and all the band need is manatee puppets and some lesbian ham to throw out into the audience. With  "Hereby No one", "Weak Invincible" and "Too Damn Long" all segueing into each other its unclear which will make the first single choice, but knowing this band they'll probably f*ck off the idea of doing singles and release a 3D surround album complete with DVD instead. Carlis Star do things different than others and its what makes them special - how many other bands would be audacious enough to have intro and outro music so long that Matt Bellamy would think its a bit pompous?

Most bands couldn't follow Carlis Star, but The Boy Majors aren't just any band. In less than 6 months they've had every single major record label come to watch them, had sell out gigs in South Manchester with 100 people queuing outside the venue and created a buzz last seen with the Libertines and Arctic Monkeys. This is their first hometown gig in over a month as the band have been taking the sound across the UK and proving that this isn't only something that Manchester's talking about, and from the start when the opening chords to "All We Can Be" kick in those doubters who were stroking chins at the back of the venue rush to the front.

Certain songs that have become standards in the Boy Majors set like "In The City", but it's the new songs "Love & Danger", a call and response track between frontman Jordan and guitarist singer Will. Soon to become a dancefloor filler in indie clubs across the country it almost renders the careers of the View, The Cribs and Pigeon Detectives obsolete. "Weird Science" does the same and manages to cram about 3 choruses into one song and "Power Up" is the sort of song you'd imagine the Arctic Monkeys writing if they didn't spend most of their time hanging around with Girls Aloud.

By the end of their set when they encore with a repeat performance of "All We Can Be" we're convinced the Boy Majors are the best band in Manchester at the moment. With dull as ditchwater songwriters and Madchester throwbacks we've been convinced that music scene in Manchester will begin to focus on female artists like Karima Francis, but Jordan Boy Majors is an equally iconic star as Karima is.

Of the Birthday celebrations last year some have gone onto great success, some are on a hiatus following record label wranglings and others are still to prove themselves, but all 4 bands tonight are pretty much guaranteed that by the time we celebrate our 9th Birthday next June they'll be the only names on your lips

Alex McCann
Photos: Rebecca Lee

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