Manchester is a special place full of passionate, diverse, open and independent artists and musicians that thrive in their lovely community. It is a city where any type of person can find a welcoming place for their interests and music taste. It is a place where different aspects of Northern England seep into bands’ sounds, yet create something new and authentic out of it. It is a place where the current social climate infuses songs with power, passion and rage. Manchester is unlike many cities in the world with a unique music hub that continues to grow by the minute.

Drenched in sweat from head to toe, I was front and center for Gardenback as my friends and I sweatily squeezed together. Jimmy’s was an intimate venue- so intimate that the condensation was dropping from the ceiling and the band’s spit would hit you when they screamed into their microphones. That Saturday night felt like a proper Manchester DIY gig— one I read about in free music magazines handed out around the city, or one I dream about being a part of someday.

Gardenback by Savannah
Photo: Savannah Eisert

I’ve written a special treat for you HEY readers. I am very intrigued and inspired by the Manchester music scene historically and currently, so I’ve written up a review of three underrated bands that I got the pleasure of seeing live and talking to last week at Jimmy’s in the Northern Quarter (my fave place), Manchester. So if you have never been to Manchester for the music, I highly suggest it- it is my favorite place in the world.

Gardenback by Savannah
Photo: Savannah Eisert

For a lot of the upcoming Manchester bands, it’s hard to make a statement because of the famous and everlasting history of all the great bands from the city. A lot of the new bands get classified into these genres and are being told they sound like certain bands that have already come and gone. But I think Manchester is in a special new era of it’s music scene where bands and artists are creating something different— and after seeing the three bands at Jimmy’s, it is safe to say these passionate bands are really bringing something new to the table.

„This one is about the mother fuckers who print papers.“
-Lloyd Kelly introducing the song ‚Rumourmonger‘

Little Illusion Machine were first to hit the stage. I gave their EP, M.O.T.H.- Melancholia On The Horizon, a listen before heading to the show and thought they sounded a lot like early day Arctic Monkeys (their band name is actually the name of an Arctic Monkeys B-side song that includes Miles Kane & The Death Ramps) – so I was looking forward to seeing how they would sound live. The three guys, Lloyd Kelly, Ben Cullen and Joe James, are a Northern Manchester indie rock band, but when they took the stage, they experimented with many different sounds that created more of a psychedelic vibe throughout the set. My friend turned to me at one point and said he could even hear some flamenco/Latino influences tied within their sound. What impressed me most is within their use of conventional chord patterns was a more complex sound which had me hooked from the beginning.

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Photo: Tara Lou

Sav: Is there a certain aspect about the city that inspires you the most? Or is it more of a general feeling you get from the current situations happening in the UK?

Little Illusion Machine: I’d probably say it’s more the history of the City that inspires us, but of course the other situations happening in the UK will inspire and have an affect on us and the music we write.

Sav: Are you happy to be growing here as a band? Why?

Little Illusion Machine: Yeah we couldn’t imagine a better city to be growing as a band! There’s so much music opportunities it’s great for any band trying to get the experience of gigging and building a fan base.

Sav: What are some current Manchester bands that people should listen to right now?

Little Illusion Machine: Sly Antics, Lucy & The Streetlight Pirates, and Sioux- three top Manchester bands. Also, Ladies Darts Night and Gardenback who we played with. There’s a lot of great bands spawning in and around Manchester at the moment. It’s a great time to be involved in the Manchester music scene. There’s something for everyone’s taste.

Hold on tight, because what I witnessed next was a gripping performance by Ladies‘ Darts Night. As I researched the guys a bit, I listened to their recently dropped EP, Tragedies, Comedies & Histories, and hadn’t heard anything like them in a while. I could hear the Northern Manchester influence- pulling that groovy, fuzzy guitar from The Stone Roses, powerful lyrics with a poetic rhythm like John Cooper Clarke or Morrissey, and pounding drums paired perfectly with a mysterious bass like Joy Division. If you’re into a loud, mesmerizing sound backed with politically infused lyrics, then this 5 piece band are who you need to be listening to. Seeing Ladies‘ Darts Night live was the icing on the cake to complete the full package of being an all around interesting band. They had a tight set full of infectious energy, great visuals (an example being Theresa May photoshopped into an evil looking creature) and a proper punk vibe that came naturally to all 5 members.

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Photo: Tara Lou

Sav: Is there a certain aspect about the city that inspires you the most? Or is it more of a general feeling you get from the current situations happening in the UK?

Ladies‘ Darts Night: I suppose there’s stuff about the city that can’t help but bleed through into our songs, some of the imagery we portray is definitely very Mancunian and obviously the language and intonation of Tom’s vocals are. We’re influenced by a lot of things though, obviously the state of society in the UK (and the world for that matter) plays a massive part. I think it’s hard not to be stirred or influenced by what’s happening around you at the time.

Sav: Are you happy to be growing here as a band? Why?

Ladies‘ Darts Night: Manchester and the Northwest of England has a massive musical history, which can be a gift and a curse. There’s the danger of being thought of as ‚just another Manchester band‘, but on the flipside because of it’s legacy there’s always been a great scene for live music here – so it is one of the best places to be for music in the UK. I think everyone knows deep down Manchester is Britain’s true second city. Sorry Birmingham.

Sav: What are some current Manchester bands that people should listen to right now?

Ladies‘ Darts Night: People should check out Little Illusion Machine, Gardenback, Shaking Chains, Ambiere. If they’re after something a bit more out, then they should get onto Slow Canyons as well.

And for the grand finale, my good friends of Gardenback took the stage for a killer performance. The trio hopped on stage, instantly put the crowd in the palm of their hands by opening with a new track called Motorways, and took their listeners on a ride they wouldn’t forget. Gardenback’s set never let you sit still, no matter how much you wanted to because of the sweat box venue we were in. From their new mesmerizing songs to their killer covers („Psycho Killer“ by Talking Heads and „Temptation“ by New Order for their encore), it is easy to say they stole the show with their passionate playing, constant energy and an overall tight set. They even played their two singles, Call It A Phase and Sleepless, that nearly brought down the roof (click here for a previous blog post about Gardenback to find out more about them). One of my favorite things about Gardenback is how much they improve each time I come back to the City- Ellis’s, (bassist and lead singer) vocals has become more clear and sharp, guitarist Neil continues to become more creative with his unconventional techniques that shine in all of the new songs, and drummer Jacob consistently stuns me with his powerful drumbeats.

Gardenback by Richard Eskins
Gardenback by Richard Eskins
Gardenback by Richard Eskins
Photos: Richard Eskins

Sav: Is there a certain aspect about the city that inspires you the most? Or is it more of a general feeling you get from the current situations happening in the UK?

Gardenback: I think the most inspirational thing about the city is that its got a really good heritage of embracing the left field, and I think it is hard to come from the city without acknowledging that. I think the people in the city are very open to ideas, and very open to seeing and hearing new things which makes it a very welcoming environment for us.

Sav: Are you happy to be growing here as a band? Why?

Gardenback: I’m very happy to be growing here as a band- partly because it’s somewhere as a city and a place I’ve been to so much when I was younger. And like I said before, I’ve seen so much of what people before me have achieved and that’s really inspirational because there’s so many things that have happened in the city. It feels like anyone can stand up and create something out of a part of that story. It’s nice to have that to aspire to.

Sav: What are some current Manchester bands that people should listen to right now?

Gardenback: We just played with Ladies’ Darts Night and Little Illusion Machine who are both fucking great. We also have played with a band called Twisted Dolls who are a great blues, two-piece. There’s just a lot happening in the city, you have to just check them out— like SAUCE.

This show was very special for many reason. First off, these three bands all represent different aspects of Northern England that are new and upcoming that more of the world should discover. It was also special because all three bands, Elephant Management, the photographers and venue really worked as a team to create a fantastic night full of great music. You really felt like you were in a proper community that put so much effort and passion into making these bands shine. Manchester is a place where everyone is here to support each other. It’s a place where the people you are surrounded by make you feel welcome. It’s a place where passion, creativity and fabulous music thrives.

Gardenback by Richard Eskins
Photo: Richard Eskins

I hope this blog post shed some light on a little part of the world that is currently bursting with unique talent and creativity that everyone should start researching and checking out.

Gardenback / Facebook / Soundcloud / Instagram / Twitter

Ladies‘ Darts Night / Facebook / Soundcloud / Instagram / Twitter

Little Illusion Machine / Facebook / Soundcloud / Instagram / Twitter