Words & photos by Ged Camera.
No, no, no. The White Hotel is not in Manchester, but Salford, a city with a heritage that its citizens are proud of. Whilst many bands will celebrate and advertise Manchester, Ewan McColl ‘celebrated’ Salford with a catchy ditty entitled ‘Dirty Old Town’. So while I’m illuminating a few factual inaccuracies, and failing to mention the numerous ones I’ve circulated, the White Hotel is not a hotel, but it is white. The only bunker (one of the venue’s former aliases) in the place is the one they dispense the beers from. I have no doubt that at least one person has lost their balance and toppled into the hole.
The organisers have made an announcement that, “Jobs bore the piss out of us. We have gone as far as we can with this insanity”. I’m not sure too many of those present this evening will disagree with that.
First up are a band who’re filling the venues in their native London. And now they’ve ventured into Salford. I’m willing to bet that Sweat thought that their sat-nav was faulty as it guided them to HMP Strangeways then down a poorly lit, litter strewn cul-de-sac en route to The White Hotel.
If you are expecting an uninterrupted eye line view of the performers, then carry on to the nearby Manchester Arena, for this place will be smothered in dry ice that will form a heavy fog over performers and watchers alike. Their frontman Dante’s inferno was created through the dry ice, with the help of a couple of red lights standing either side of the stage.
Once underway, Sweat envelope the audience with a warm, enticing aural experience. It’s a richly layered product. Even when the guitars (Joe) kicked in, they were restrained within a laidback envelope, everything contributing to the overall effect that washes out from the stage. The term ‘woozy’ has aptly been used to describe the sound. In Dante, they have a vocalist and frontman who isn’t backward at coming forward, someone all too willing to take the small step off the front of the stage and into the crowd massed in front of him.
Mixing things up nicely was Japanese Breakfast, a trio that likes to start a song with the crack of drumsticks, before launching into a series of sugary sounding but bitingly literary songs. Led by Michelle Zauner, the unit from the west coast of USA soon get people moving to their upbeat numbers. Zauner seems to be the type of person who wants to channel all life experiences and opinions into the music, whether by the current band or another guise of Little Big League. Like Dante before her, she isn’t afraid to wander into the murky light and attempt to solicit the individual opinion of the ever-increasing crowd numbers.
Two things strike you about the band Let’s Eat Grandma. 1) They look so young that they can’t legally be able to buy an alcoholic drink, and 2) How many are in the band to play the numerous instruments on the stage? The answer to the latter is two, and they are Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth. The answer to the former is that for the next few months at least, ID will be required.
The duo are also likely to place the various combinations of sax, keyboards, drum pads and more into the same song, then take a mid-song break, turn to each other and start a hand clapping routine that should seem trivial, but actually fits in with everything else that’s going on.
There is a knowing understanding between them, evidenced by the way they interlock fingers on the keyboards before switching positions. Seemingly oblivious to the hype of being the next breakthrough act, the fact they have known each other for over 10 years seems to have provided a protective barrier around them. They have also been able to nurture a series of intricately composed songs.
The potential is undoubtedly there, so let’s hope it’s allowed to flourish.
The All-Dayer took place at The White Hotel, Salford on Saturday 22 October, 2016.