Low Island / The Deaf Institute, Manchester | 10th of November

Low Island / The Deaf Institute, Manchester | 10th of November

Performing at one of my favourite Manchester venues, The Deaf Institute, Low Island served as my Friday night entertainment on the 10th of November and boy did they entertain.

Supporting them were two local acts; Young Monarch – a fiery six-piece who enlivened me from my hangover haze with their ambient pop ballads led by an impressively powerful, emotional voice of the female lead singer, and Demons of Ruby Mae – a two-piece comprised of another strong vocalist (male this time) who carried catchy yet heart wrenching melodies, using both voice and guitar, accompanied by a thumping drum machine and keyboard. In terms of instrumentation, the support acts contrasted nicely. With Young Monarch reminding me of solo Jack White’s backing band due to its tuneful fiddle and tight drummer, and Demons of Ruby Mae utilising several guitar pedals alongside their robust, electronically produced beats. This prepared the audience for the intertwining of the acoustic and voltaic into each song of the main act. After a while however, I became indifferent to anthem after anthem, becoming more than ready for the subtle, genre bending sounds of Low Island (also I was annoyed because someone took all my filters).

As soon as they arrived on stage, I could see how prime for success they really were. Formed a year ago in Oxford, Low Island were clearly in a different league to the support. Their high energy was enthralling as one of the lead vocalists and guitarists, Carlos, centered the stage writhing to their detached, Radiohead-esque rhythms. These were powered by both a drum machine and former jazz ensemble drummer, Felix, whose heavily intricate percussion electrified the eerie synths. Common are comparisons to their legendary Oxford predecessors which are certainly justified in terms of how they disallow themselves to be identified with one particular style. The show went through several phases. Much of the beginning included a dark, nostalgic sentiment achieved by the warm yet atmospheric synth chords and reverberated vocal octaval harmonies (very reminiscent of The XX) in regards to songs like End Piece and Anywhere. They have previously summed up their music as “late night drives on the motorway” which is an apt description. The thriving kick drum in many of their tracks creates that techno-inspired hypnotism which you cannot help but nod and sway to.

The four-piece made sure not to perform their tracks just as they were recorded. For example on Tomorrow, rather than keeping it just as a single guitar and voice throughout, a fuzzy synth drone repeatedly swallowed the end of the jazzy guitar riff in the final part of the song. Every member had their moment to shine with Jacob (the bassist) playing a glistening keyboard solo that sounded like an entrance into a mystical dream. In the second half of the show they indulged in experimentation with their guitars and pedals to create a cacophony of beautiful distortion, which nearly reached My Bloody Valentine levels.

However despite all my comparisons to these darker, ghostly bands, Low Island managed to successfully contradict themselves with their dance tunes which are slightly more prevalent in their recently released music. Their current single, The Lines got the crowd moving with its housey beat and breathy vocals (sang by Jamie) reminding me of Goldfrapp’s Anymore. My favourite of their upbeat tracks they performed was That Kind of Love from their In This Room EP with its catchy chorus that may be stuck in my head for the foreseeable future. However it still managed to incorporate fluid, echoing guitars in between and yet again using wonderful synth sounds to add interesting layers to prevent a purely sugary pop track from forming.

What also struck me was how evident it was that they were having the time of their life. They clearly are proud of their music and sweetly root for each other onstage. Low Island did not disappoint a single bit. The success of their now finished tour has affirmed them as a band that I am waiting in anticipation to see what they do next.

 

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