I always feel self conscious in Manchester’s Castle in the heart of the city’s Northern Quarter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely venue with a great choice of drinks, but when it’s busy, you are always in someone’s way and you struggle to get to the bar for chatting people.
I bit the bullet by asking for “any IPA that’s about 5%” (I couldn’t read the taps) and then doing the wall shuffle clutching my invincible shield of belonging in the shape of a pint glass. All this, while I tried to find a suitable spot without being in the way of the bar, the route to the loos and people greeting each other.
At least as I performed my own peculiar bar waggle dance, I had a good chance to spot some local music legends here to catch Lounge Society. This Hebden/Tod band have quite a buzz about them; deservedly so, and a lot of folk in the know are keen to check them out. Indeed, I tripped a couple of them up inadvertently as we all patiently shuffled around the space and awaited the access to the back room.
First up tonight was another band with some roots in the upper Calder Valley in the form of Splint. I had done a bit of social media searching but it seems Splint may not quite want to join that particular rat race just now. The band is fronted by Jake Bogacki, who was early drummer with Working Men’s Club before a sudden split from Syd just around the point of WMC signing to Heavenly, and as Syd was moving from the heavy sound of early single Bad Blood, into the WMC more Techo Italian House style of today.
Musical differences with his former band mate were immediately apparent as Splint’s first song was a lengthy mind blowing, heavy song with intricate melodic guitar riffs, lovely duelling guitars and a full on indie rock sound.
That first Splint song to an audience where many were unfamiliar to the band, was a statement of intent; it hypnotised and commanded the space in the room for well over double the standard 3 minutes.
Not only was Splint a bit Velvet Underground, it was also a bit Velvet Underpants, as I’ve rarely seen a more confident and assured introduction. No squeaky bum time here for Splint.
The rest of the set was as good, as confidently driven, and assured. There was a strong control amidst the tunes too. I want to catch more of this band.
Lounge Society trotted onto the stage to an immediate buzz of anticipation and I marvelled on watching these lads furiously thrashing their musical instruments while rammed onto a small stage, how had I ever earlier felt uncomfortable at the bar area. Mingling elbows were de rigueur here.
I think the sole word I’d use to describe the Lounge Society experience is furious. The way the band manage their high speed instruments and weave and interact is poetry in motion. As Herbie explained to me later, much of that work is devised to entertain and challenge themselves as musicians and as a band as much as anything. Of course, it should sound both good and interesting too, and it achieves that in spades.
Lounge Society here were on top form, lively, thought provoking, intelligent and interesting. A strong set list ended with a totally blistering Generation Game and Burn The Heather sounding as good as I always hoped it might do live.
There is a lot of similar sounding post industrial music out there, and Lounge Society definitely dodge the stodge. I think that clash of relaxed Hebden Bridge values, mixed up with a youthful enthusiasm for things worth believing in and a unquenchable thirst to develop better new things hit it big within Lounge Society. As their latest song Last Breath shouts it; this is a committed and determined crew. This take no sh1t mood overlays the music in the band’s performance.
Dear reader, after a bit of a post gig chat with the lads, and with a signed set list and a Lounge Society tote bag safely stored under my hotel pillow, I dreamt sweetly of revolution. These are the guys to deliver.