Live Review

High Voltage Showcase: Hot Club De Paris, Manchester Deaf Institute

They’re still the tight, enthralling band they’ve always been.

Industry events can range from the sublime to the bizarre. South By South West is widely regarded as the king of this sort of thing – and regularly has bands playing three or four times a day to disparate groups of people with the vague aim of getting signed. Now, Manchester’s In The City might not have the same pull as it’s Texan cousin, but it’s certainly following a similar set of guidelines and has a similar outcome.

A perfect example of the idiosyncratic nature of these industry conferences is High Voltage at The Deaf Institute, featuring a line-up packed with talent but low on cohesion. Upcoming indie-pop hopefuls Dutch Uncles nearly steal the show with their swooning, elegant songs, despite the fact that they’ve only just finished playing a gig halfway across town at Chicago Rock. Placing a band who’ve recently supported Maximo Park and Bombay Bicycle Club next to the utter brutality of Kong is always going to be a jarring experience. That said, whenever Kong perform it’s going to be visceral. Coming on stage in their signature cellotaped faces and ill-fitting t-shirts, they completely destroy all before them with an earthquake of sound. They’re the loudest thing you’re ever likely to hear, backed by a drummer who borders on being possessed. In short, they’re terrifying, ridiculously talented and utterly brilliant.

And then, the jump back. From three men who make a noise that sounds like it wants to fight you, to three men who stop their final song to get the audience to make the smallest sound it the world. Starting their set shortly before midnight, Hot Club de Paris top the bill, acutely aware of where they are playing. ‘Seeing as this is an industry conference, you just talk amongst yourselves whilst we try and get signed’ quips lead singer Matthew Smith, before his brother, drummer Alasdair replies, ‘We’re already signed to the Internet’.

It is a performance punctuated by the band’s conversation and wit, something which has always spilled over into the songs themselves. Live, they’re still the tight, enthralling band they’ve always been, hopping about stage, smiles firmly in place. With third album ‘Breakdown At Devils Point’ on the way, the band’s music is still filled with the jumpy, quirky guitars, yelping and three part harmonies that got them noticed in the first place. It’s a testament to the band’s energetic performance that the chatter that usually punctuates concerts is absent, and the crowd stay almost completely silent, intent on watching the band. This far into their career, Hot Club are a band that must no longer feel the need to prove themselves. Despite that, the band seem far from lapsing into the lull that many of their contemporaries fall into. But if tonight proves anything, it’s that Hot Club de Paris are far from a normal band.

Photo: Miriam Baynes

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