There’s a video online of an obsessed trainspotter – a proper anorak, like – who loses his tiny little mind over the discovery that one train carriage is connected to another (watch it – It’s fine, you can come back to the review afterwards).
What intrigues me most about it (other than it being a fantastic slice of Americana) is that this geezer is so unbelievably happy and excited, having waited months to watch what is ultimately two trains connected to each other. I’m not taking the piss either, I’m just gutted that I’m too much of an entitled cynic to be that enthused about anything…
This cynicism and lack of excitement has slowly begun to creep into music too, and occasionally I’ll find myself at shows getting lost in the moment – but only because I’m thinking about what time the shop shuts, or if it will be too late to eat my tea once I get home.
Thankfully, a show last week at Gullivers in Manchester’s Northern Quarter shook me out of this stupor and I was able to almost reach the same levels of joy and excitement as our anorak friend in the aforementioned video (though not quite to the point of shouting “That horn gives me the chills” inbetween songs). This was all thanks to two bands – Atlanta based trio Omni and Manchester’s own DUDS.
DUDS are riding a huge wave of hype right now, thanks in part to the efforts of BBC Radio 6 Music Disc Jockey extraordinaire and former member of The Fall, Marc Riley. DUDS have appeared in session for Marc Riley twice, and he’s been flying their flag high for a while now. It’s likely one of the reasons the room is packed with punters in advance of their arrival. The other being that DUDS are the genuine article, having three criminally short releases (so far) worth of quirky, jagged post-punk songs out in the open.
EVERYONE seems to want to grab a spot down the front, as the various members of DUDS set up their gear on stage. There’s a genuine feeling of excitement building up amongst the crowd as time inches ever closer to their set. A large group congregates together aroundd the front and punters are embracing each other. I spy a lad with a fucking Nokia 3210.
It’s all kicked off with each member of the band playing a note on their chosen instrument (with everyone’s favourite being the lad on brass) before descending into a scatty-as-fuck intro. Some whippersnapper next to me is unable to control himself seconds into the first tune and almost knocks the pint out of a large, bald geezer’s hand, which he was obviously not best pleased with. I thought for a minute we were going to the days of old and a fist was incoming, but the lads smoothed it over in favour of continuing to watch one of Manchester’s most promising acts.
DUDS belt out bursts of rapid-fire, super-tight life-changers in quick succession, only allowing for a breather on the “Slower one”- ‘Reward Indifference Part 2’ from their last EP ‘Wet Reduction’. It’s a song from this EP that they end on as well – the undeniably infectious ‘No Remark’. The stop start of the midway point is stretched out to a tantalising degree, with all eyes on the drummer. Anticipation builds and builds as he considers the moment, before signalling the band to blast through the remaining minute via battering his kit.
Speaking with the drummer after the show, he sadly informed me that there’s likely no further Manchester dates upcoming for a while and jests that Eastern Europe is more likely… They’ve just been announced for the BBC 6 Music Festival in Glasgow, so at least that’s a bit closer to home.
DUDS I’ve known about for a while, but for some reason Omni completely passed me by. Another potential room-filler thanks to the influence of tastemaker Marc Riley, they’d performed in session on his show earlier in the evening. The trio from Atlanta, Georgia stopped off in Manchester around the midway point on their European tour, having kicked off their run of shows on the continent at the end of January.
Their debut album ‘Deluxe’ was released last summer, picking up favourable reviews left and right for its engrossing blend of nostalgic post-punk, quirky rhythms and whimsical lyrics. The record makes up the bulk of their set, with bassist Philip Frobos announcing the arrival of “More album tracks” at one point. What I love about their performance is their knack of just getting through the set, plugging away at incredibly infectious, danceable numbers quick-sharp without fucking about. It’s like you could just plonk them anywhere and all they’d have to do is plug in and play.
‘Wire’ is an absolute highlight, with its throwback guitar jangle making my head spin! ‘Cold Vermouth’ is another, and I find it hard to take my eyes off the bass guitar throughout the duration, as it sends out wave after wave of invisible grooves…
It’s not all album tracks, and we’re treated to a few newer tunes, one of which is their latest single ‘Fever Bass’. Prior to playing it, bassist Philip announces (in an unintentionally humourous way) that he’s “Heard from America…” that the vinyl for the single has arrived, urging people to grab it online now before it’s too late. More jangles and quirks, it matches the other tracks of the evening with its delightful throwback sound.
Their bish-bash-bosh approach means that before too long, they’ve played through the majority of Deluxe and are being urged by the congregation before them to dust off one more before knocking it on the head. New song ‘Southbound’ makes up the encore, with a further announcement that it will have to be the last one as it’s the only other song they know!
Their no nonsense approach and ability to lock into these incredibly contagious, smooth-jams make Omni super watchable, and I moved seemingly without conscious thought to the merch desk to pick up a copy of their debut record following the final note. Job done.