A cold basement, a drizzly Manchester evening and the brooding tunes of Belfast’s finest post-punks make for a fittingly grim celebration of all things melancholy.
Support comes from Gross Net – stage name of Phillip Quinn (who also plays guitar in Girls Names). It’s a depressing performance, and not in the way the artist probably intends it to be. Sure, there are songs about being on the dole and being out of luck, however, the lackluster turnout coupled with Quinn’s static stage presence makes the whole performance a bit underwhelming. Perhaps if the crowd was less sparse, there would be more energy for Quinn to feed off in.
Fortunately, angst and despair come to life when Girls Names take to the stage. With their latest album being their darkest work yet – Soup Kitchen’s basement is filled with all sorts of people present to soak in the despair.
The sound itself is post-punk familiar: monotonous bass lines, driving drums, frantic guitar and shouty baritone vocals which all add up to be infectious as well as comforting. Their stage presence reflects their music – it’s impersonal and cold expect for the odd glance towards each other. Cathal Cully delivers his lyrics apathetically with a blank stare towards the back of the crowd.
Yet their relentless energy is present as is the relentless gloom. Just when you think a song is too long or dragging, Girls Names have the knack of bringing out an onslaught of spiraling synth and wavering guitars to shake you up. The band might be physically still in all their moodiness, but the music rarely stays in one spot for long. The eleven minute sonic trip that is ‘Zero Triptych’ is even trippier when performed live, and has the room in a trance like daze.
After a brilliantly bleak set, applause and silence ensues. The emptiness is amplified. Melancholy at its finest.
– Jennifer Ho
Venue: Soup Kitchen, Manchester
Support Band: Gross Net