Milk Teeth / The Deaf Institute, Manchester | 19th of March

Milk Teeth / The Deaf Institute, Manchester | 19th of March

British pop-punk outfit Milk Teeth brought their Go Away tour to an impassioned crowd at The Deaf Institute for a Monday night of sweat and angst. They’ve gathered an unhesitant momentum since joining Roadrunner Records, releasing Eps Be Nice and Go Away which have clearly gone down well, the room rendered enamoured with Becky Blomfield’s every breath and twitch. They have undoubtedly good songs, and a noticeable power on stage, but a slight overspill of ‘punk attitude’ and the initiation of a borderline rockstar strop meant they left the stage spreading a feeling of discomfort, partially destroying the abundant rock show they evidently could have achieved.

Nervus open proceedings. A broken microphone makes for an awkward first verse and chorus, but these are saved by the keyboardist’s dance moves. His jerky arms and flowing hips genuinely provide great entertainment through the half an hour slot. Sonically they sound bold. Heavy riffs and strong vocals intertwine with gentle keys and crashing drums to create something quite beautiful, reminiscent of Les Savy Fav. A song is dedicated to the Transgender community, and dedicated against David Davis MP. The band and audience are in total agreement that the politicians involved in certain conversations, are in fact the parasites.

After a final singalong chorus, Nervus make way for Fangclub. Atmospherical with a sci-fi march on, the Irish rockers power through a very flowing and complete set, in which the newer stuff sounds stronger, ‘Knife’ standing out for its slightly different sound. They seem a little formulaic in their writing, every song striving for heaviness and not much else. But they are unquestionably good at heavy. In their half an hour slot they find time to orchestrate a singalong of happy birthday to the drummer’s younger brother (and their biggest fan) and take the opportunity in their closing number to climb into the crowd to try and get to know them better.

Both bands were great, despite their styles not quite fitting with the headline act, they get a warm reception. Milk Teeth immediately set the tone with Nearby Catfight. This is a night focussing on their new material, and everyone can crash into each other or, ahem, Go Away. They race through a couple of fan favourites, an aural assault begging us to break through the springy floor. Becky introduces Brickwork but the drummer starts something else. Brief confusion ensues, and a lot of heads shake onstage. The setlists don’t seem to match up and it clearly rattles the band. This break in cohesion seems to carry through the rest of the set. But the crowd don’t notice for the best part, and continue to scrap to the punky energy of I Stabbed You First and Brain Food.

Swear Jar gives bodies some respite, at the detriment of lungs. The band seem happy at this point to rework material, and experiment with their own style. After confusing the setlist again, Becky tells us an unnerving joke about The Sixth Sense and Titanic (punchline = I see dead people) before orchestrating more satisfying circle pits from the crowd and eventually actually playing Brickwork to resounding energy. A brief acoustic couplet gives further respite, but the vocals sadly seem less powerful in these delicate moments. The juxtaposition between American vocal and Gloucestershire speech is a little distracting, but ultimately dissipates when the guitars come back out.

Their attitude feel a little bit ‘race to the finish’ from this point though. It’s difficult not to notice the very puzzled looks and whispers between band members. The next couple of songs are genuinely marred by the looks to the sound desk and the shrugs. Becky introduces final number Owning your Okayness by apologising to the crowd, claiming all she’s heard is “fucking feedback all night, so sorry if it sounded shitty.” It feels like she’s been too distracted to notice the ardent commitment from the fans. Potentially their best song still gets an animated reaction, but there’s a portion of the crowd that are too disheartened to dance.

A resentful thanking and an avoidance of eye contact end the show. The room remains abuzz as fans try and push their way backstage, but that small portion of the crowd remain a little annoyed. Milk Teeth have a good collection of songs and people that are clearly inspired by them. They have a powerful stage presence and ability to galvanize an audience. Because of that ability, energized fans won’t be put off coming back with all their grit as the band continue to grow and develop.

 

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