Located in the depths of the Mancunian uni village, teensy little venue Hive is hard to find. It took several trips, back and forth up the same street, for us to find it, but did not disappoint. Upstairs, fairy lights hung from the ceiling, and the room was adorned with a beehive-like decoration – in true Manchester spirit. It seemed as though the bar had been raised straight out of Shoreditch, with outrageously hipster furniture surrounded by twinkly lights. Yellow hues echoed through the bar, creating the most homely atmosphere – a theme that runs through the entire building.
Following the ‘gig this way’ posters signposted on the door, down the stairs, and ventured into a small basement room. The venue’s name is rather fitting, for the aesthetics ranged from retro to golden modernism, and the beehive decor continued with hexagonal shelves running across the back of the bar. Drinks were reasonably priced and the bar staff extremely polite, making it feel almost as though the bar was downstairs in your own home.
The first band were a young group of boys called Critical Reaction. There was only about ten people in the audience, including the girl on the door giving out stamps, but they played as though the room was full. With a very talented lead guitarist, and a lead singer that looked like a pre-pubescent Van McCann, Critical Reaction are the poster boys for a starting-out indie band. The music was fun, despite the lyrics leaving something to be desired, and they combined ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ guitar riffs with a heavy drum beat, which almost matched. Just four young northern souls playing their own version of indie rock. One to watch, definitely.
Second to play were Beeswax, a Norwegian five-piece band on a three day tour of England. Having travelled from Brighton just the night before, Beeswax graced us with their tunes on the cosy stage at Hive. They opened with a song that could have featured on the soundtrack of a teen romance movie, and their set had an overall ‘Stereophonics’ vibe. Their latest single ‘closer’ had everyone moving in the crowd, and actually features Sophia Pettit, lead singer of supporting band: Night Flowers. A passion for music shone through their songs, bowl-cuts bobbing to the beat. The crowd smiled as they sent us back to the year 2000, a nostalgic throwback to noughties indie rock. Their new record comes out “sometime in April,” the lead singer said, clearly still a work in progress.
And finally, the group we came to see: Night Flowers. Originally formed in London, lead singer Sophia Pettit channels a bohemian vibe into the music with her Massachusetts roots. Their music transports you back to the flower power days, with dreamy synthesisers accompanying most songs. Throughout the set, Sophia’s angelic soprano voice cut through the thick drum beat, forcing our feet to sway. As the guitar intro to ‘Glow in the Dark’ began, a wave of appreciation rushed over the crowd as they immediately recognised the band’s most loved song, boasting 230,000 listens on Spotify. With music that would definitely have been played in a John Hughes film had they been around in the 80s, Night Flowers are the type of band you listen to at 14 when you first discover indie music. A band you can grow with and continue to appreciate, even in your early 20s. Despite some strange, spoken-word song introductions here and there, their show left the crowd feeling rather wholesome and, quite frankly, very sleepy.
Night Flowers performed at 78 Sackville Street on Friday 15th February 2019. Words by Sophie Cunningham.