The Night and Day Café Showcase / Manchester | 8th of February

The Night and Day Café Showcase / Manchester | 8th of February

On 8th February I went to The Night and Day Café Showcase featuring Valetta, Transatlantic Scum, Astoria Four and Raised By Foxes.

Opening up on the night was indie ensemble Raised by Foxes. Inundating the few spectators with an alternative eruption from their first song, see-saw guitars, pendulum drums and uncompromising vocals constituted an inordinate sonic overflow. This outbreak gradually subsided, diversifying into melancholic riffs, jangly licks and haunting lyrics. While the band often left little room for subtlety, their insistence on producing as full a sound as possible verging at times on saturation, their ability to shift between ethereal arpeggios, mournful melodies and despondent dirge ultimately rendered them a more multifaceted act.

Up next was rock band Astoria Four, whose concoction of surly riffs and melodic leads combined with snarling vocals and anthemic melodies. Despite a few welcome funky basslines and groovy guitar rhythms, their characteristic rousing outcries ostensibly borrow primarily from punk outfits of the past. It is the kinetic and abrasive qualities of their songs that will best stick in the memory, but like Raised By Foxes, their willingness to borrow from different genres and styles produced a more rounded sound.

Since only one member of Transatlantic Scum turned up, he catered for the absence with a solo acoustic set. Dropped in at the deep end you either sink or swim, and regardless of how prepared he was, the band member turned solo artist produced arguably the most alluring set of the night. Beguiling acoustic jams provided a revitalising tonic to the granular precursors, and belying the implications of his band’s name, purged the venue of any vestige of cumbersome melancholy.

The crowd had somewhat filled out by the time headliners Valetta took the stage, familiar faces and first time listeners alike. In contrast to Raised By Foxes, much of Valetta‘s impact came from what they left out, their somewhat minimalistic approach rendering each outburst or shift in tone all the more cathartic. The band clearly shares some grunge sensibilities. Catchy melodies peep through the cracks of loud instrumental interchanges, while each member serves the songs with simple but effective embellishments. However, to reduce the impact of the performance to mere coherent interplay and structural adroitness shatters any notion of romance. While these factors undoubtedly contribute to Valetta‘s sound, there does seem to be a more idyllic flair in play that gives their songs life.

As the means of musical production continues to drift further and further away from the DIY ethos of years gone by, the Night and Day Showcase served up a reminder that it’s still alive and well.

 

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