LIVE: The Golden Dregs, Dilettante, Furrowed Brow, Afternoon People @ The Castle, Manchester

Mike: I was marginally concerned about this whole two-way conversation review format, us being a couple and all. A bit weird isn’t it, like ‘his and hers’…I would like to stress that we are not wearing matching jumpers whilst writing this. It’s just that, well, we went to the gig together so it makes sense to share our individual thoughts.

Kim: We definitely are wearing matching jumpers! Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge what a great venue The Castle is. It’s intimate with tons of character, plus a rainy ceiling (which I found quite entertaining at times, but it understandably concerned the musicians with their fancy equipment…).

M: The evening commenced with a spritely outfit of chaps playing a fairly convincing set of indie rock songs, clearly indebted to early Artic Monkeys. I mean there was nothing hugely new here, but they played with energy and confidence and got the room moving pretty successfully.

K: Yeah, it was standard indie-rock, but easy on the ears. They go by the name ‘Afternoon People’. They were a bit ‘young lads start an indie band’, but they played well and sounded pretty cohesive.

M: Indeed. What did you think of the second band of the evening, Furrowed Brow?

K: They were brilliant. Their sass filled the stage, well, the whole room actually. You could hear the different influences but they made each song their own.

M: Yeah, they were flipping ace weren’t they. When they first came on stage, loads of them were kitted out in twee indie attire, like they were The Pastels or something. All berets and shirts tucked into their chinos. The first song confirmed my assumption as they sounded massively like The Wedding Present. I thought I had them nailed down at this point but to be fair they were far less predictable than that. The set weaved brilliantly between various subgenres of punk, with influences from The Fall, The Damned and a ton of others. They were proper entertaining throughout. A brilliant stage presence, putting loads of energy and sleeze into it. Top band, that.

K: They looked like they were having so much fun. I couldn’t hear a word they were singing, but they looked like their lyrics were very witty. I always appreciate a standing drummer, too! What did you think of the next band, Dilettante?

M: I was into it. I mean, Furrowed Brow should have been a difficult act to follow, but the extreme contrast in Dilettante’s style meant that they had nothing to compete with or be compared to. They started with what was essentially a heavily looped pop number that was really top drawer; almost a cappella if it wasn’t for the accompanying bass. The pair delivered a dead cool set, mixing up indie, R&B, jazz, pop and experimental.

K: I enjoyed the loop a lot! The girl that fronted the band had a smooth, flawless voice. There was a lot of talent in the room that night. Although I felt kind of restless listening to them. I was looking forward to hearing The Golden Dregs play and time was getting on…

M: Yeah, it was a shame how late everything was getting by that time. The Golden Dregs were meant to be on at what? Ten? And they were a good twenty five minutes late. That wouldn’t usually bother me at all, but getting home is a right fucker for us at night because we live a bit in the sticks, so we were getting a little concerned about missing the headliner by then…

K: Yeah, they were a bit late on. I could tell that the main Golden Dreg was getting a bit frustrated with it all, too. They were clearly raring to go and wanted to get everything set up. They were well worth the wait though. They opened with the laid-back ‘Back Down the Mountain’ – downbeat, with dark and brooding vocals.

M: Yeah, he was an intense guy but his voice was incredible. A rich, country-soaked, baritone delivery. That accompanied with the backing vocals was perfect. Especially with the bands amazing synchronised little moves, bobbing in time with their songs.

K: Haha yeah, I loved the bobs! There was a definite country vibe to their first song. And I agree with ‘intense’, but in a good way. It felt like the band connected with the crowd quickly. It was gutting that we only got to hear their second song before we had to leave. I loved the Velvet Underground-esque casual guitar twangs that developed into hurried strumming in ‘The Thirst of May’.

M: The gig definitely left me eager to check them out further. It had that 90’s alt-country feel, with some indie grit, à la Lambchop or Songs: OHIA. The vocals reminded me of loads of stuff, including Bill Callahan, or even some of the more mellow output by Michael Gira.

K: I’m grateful they’ve been brought to my attention. It’s pretty telling that we only heard two songs live, yet they managed to get both of us on board. Hopefully we can catch them live again at some point in the future.

M: Yeah, I’d love that. It was a solid night of music all round. Gutted that it was cut short but they’re definitely on my radar now, they’ve sold it to me…

 

Words by Kim Fernley and Mike Hull.

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