Band(ism) / Rowley / Suffocate Kate - Night & Day Manchester - 15.5.07

It's easy to become cynical when for the past 8 years you've seen second rate versions of every successful band going. Week in week out carbon copy versions of successful bands will play the country over whether its be bad Oasis, terrible Libertines or perhaps the nadir, which is always fronted by a 35yr old man who works in middle management, the bad Rolling Stones-esque bands. You keep at it though for those individual bands that make it all worth it and Suffocate Kate are one of those strikingly original bands that once seen are never forgotten.

Not since Do Me Bad Things have a band come on stage and just commanded the audiences attention. Remember the phrase sleeper bloke from the mid-90s. Its something that Suffocate Kate were obviously reading about in high school as the two blokes in the band barely get your attention while the four girls on stage have personalities bigger than Pink or Kelly Osbourne. Lead vocalist Holly Burnand and Ceanne Corcoran come from R&B backgrounds which means A) they can actually sing B) they avoid any of the indie girl stereotypes and act like stars rather than hoping a play on Steve Lamacq might hook them up with one of Pete Doherty's mates. AC/DC, classic soul and even a hint of Gwen Stefani all get a look in here and although classic riffs are borrowed from throughout the set they're on the right way to making their own unique style

Rowley seem to have been around forever, but like the Maple State, Manchester's indie mafia have finally acknowledged that the band previously known as Astro Boy are worth taking note of. While other bands have been gigging to ever declining audiences, Rowley have taken a different route and have been spending the last 12 months in London recording what will become a defining album in Manchester's musical history and like Carlis Star the assimilation of influences means it owes little to Manchester or anywhere else. A brand new set of songs means that old tracks such as "Rotoscope" are demoted to future b-sides rather than staples of the set. "So After All" is a song the words epic and widescreen were made for taking everything in from The Killers to The Stills and Interpol, "Uptight" similarly is a big huge radio pop song and "Following You" would be the 3rd single if they followed the template of releasing the ballad to win over the radio 2 audiences. When Rowley's album finally is released those quiet whispers about them will turn into a deafening noise and after all this time they deserve it.

It would take a degree in the internal workings of the music industry to work out why Band(ism) aren't hugely popular right now. Previously support slots for Polytechnic, Billy Childish, The Young Knives and Bobby Conn have seen them play to sold out venues yet their own shows bring down just a handful of hardcore supporters. While "I Scream" and "Moth" are notoriously difficult tracks which would alienate the casual listener they have the counterbalance of "Peacock" and "Margate", both of which off-kilter pop tracks. Their image somewhere between Phantom Of The Opera, Clockwork Orange, Leigh Bowery and The Mighty Boosh is a unique facet on the Manchester scene where it's the vogue to either out-skinny jean Johnny Borrell or try and look like Ian Brown circa 89 but in an age where the industry and public have embraced the likes of Tilly & The Wall with a tapdancing drummer or a glitchy-grimey indie quintet like Hadouken its begs belief why A&R aren't reaching out to sign Band(ism).

Alex McCann
Photos: Kirsty Umback





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