January allegedly contains the most depressing day of the year. So how do we, well a limited number of like minded people, try to shake off the shroud of gloom? By descending down the steps to a basement club in order to watch a series of performers take to the aptly named Black Stage, that’s how. Welcome to the Peer Hat, a venue recently reviewed in NTM, who hosted the tenth in a series of Tilted Fiction music promotions. The billing is “13 innovative and exciting acts spanning everything from Futuristic Hip Hop to Vibey Psych Rock. Lo-fi Post Punk to Melodic Math Pop. Beat Poetry to Hedonistic Electronica and a healthy dose of Dirty Synth Pop.”

At 2:30pm I was the second person at the bar. I know, there’s no excuse for my tardiness and I must improve. Downstairs a band member, who had travelled from London, was putting up posters to help out but had a nervous air of concern about how many people will turn up. He need not have worried for events such as these eventually get the crowd through the door. At only £7 to watch thirteen acts of differing style and content, there will always be an audience.

“I’ve got a force field surrounding me” Bingo Harry/Chanting Plants sang. Just for clarity that is one person. Well, there are two mic stands, a chair for one piece of kit and a stand for the keyboard, plus either a guitar or banjo dependant upon the song. Whilst the sound from a banjo can be used for comedic effect (e.g. George Formby) I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a banjo sampled and looped to create such a threatening sound before, feeding an impending sense of foreboding. It started so warmly as well as “Harry” allowed his softly spoken vocals to drift from the Black Stage on a warm cloud of soothing noises that provided the ideal starting point for the gig

Everyone loves a good bass line don’t they? From New Order to Cameo a bass hook can cross all genres, and Veladrome have several variations on them which Tom, one half of Veladrome, explored them aggressively. Add in a vocalist, Lisa, who can make her voice at times seem angelic, then the amalgam of darkness and light created is enthralling. The Manchester based duo have been performing for a few years now and its bemusing to me why their profile is not higher

It’s always interesting when a musician brings a hairdryer to the stage and it’s not to style anyone’s hair. It’s still dark outside but shining brightly is Alice Rowan, who has/is appeared in several outfits including Living Body, but this time it’s as Mayshe Mayshe. The hand bells on the keyboards are struck to produce chimes that are much more interesting than those of Big Ben. Some lyrics appear to reference sounds leaving a dead body. It’s very likely that I am mistaken but she did make it sound like a lovely event, one to look forward to.

The female vocalist with Code: Marla (formerly Code: Marla vs. Spire Cranes), Millie Davies, is based in Manchester whilst the other two members live in the London area so rehearsals are a tad tricky. If you can stand close enough to the stage you may hear Millie ask “how does this one go?” If you stand a bit further away you would not spot a move or a beat out of place and she had a beast of a voice, raw power released in a controlled fashion. When Millie took a break, that left the duo to battle and bounce off each other in a genre crossover mash up, one a fast and furious dispenser of lyrics, the other equally adept on guitar strings or electronics. In fact I’ve described one Instrument as a custom made iBass I.e. an iPad in a guitar. They rock and rap mixed in an engaging manner.

There was plenty more on offer and for once, it did not seem an unlucky 13.

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Words and photos by Ged Camera.

Fancy listening to some of the best artists performing across Manchester in the coming months? Listen below for our latest playlist previewing those in town for this month’s best shows!

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