Hey! Manchester promotes gigs by folk, Americana and experimental bands from around the world in Manchester, England. Read more here, see below for our latest shows, check out our previous shows, contact us, or join our mailing list, above.

Upcoming shows: Gratis: Granfalloon... The Bevis Frond... Jenn Grant... Sam Outlaw... The Album Leaf... Jesca Hoop... Chance McCoy... Gratis: Dumb... Skating Polly + She Makes War... Gratis: Dehd... Shana Cleveland... Lambert... Robyn Hitchcock... Martin Kohlstedt... Francis Lung... Mr Ben & the Bens... Weyes Blood... Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore with The Guilty Ones... Sinkane... Sam Amidon... Tropical Fuck Storm... The Delines... Mega Bog... Sebastian Plano... Gratis: Molly Linen + Cult Party... Dana Gavanski... David Thomas Broughton... Tusks... Erland Cooper... BC Camplight... Sean Rowe... Hannah Ashcroft... John Craigie... Kiwi Jr... Rachael Dadd... Angel Olsen... Beans on Toast... Jesse Malin... Peggy Sue...

When: 7.30pm on Friday 27 September 2019
Where: The Eagle Inn, 19 Collier Street, Salford, M3 7DW

As part of our new series of free entry shows at the Eagle Inn, we present Granfalloon’s second album launch!

Granfalloon present RGB, their second album showcasing their hybrid of lo-fi, folk, indie and electronica. The album weaves oddball elements, such as Omnichords, guitars, and vintage drum loops, into dreamy songs and cinematic soundscapes. It is out this September on 12″ vinyl and all streaming platforms.

Among the many textures of this album is the Omnichord, the electronic auto-harp developed by Japanese electronics company Suzuki in the 1980s. Its ‘unicorn tears’ sound giving many of the tracks on the album a woozy feel – existing in those moments between sleep and waking.

The album was recorded in Manchester between John Ellis’ Limefield Studio, WR Audio and their own studio, The Dogan. Granfalloon frontman, Richard Lomax produced the lion’s share of the album but the band also worked with producer Andrew Glassford (One Little Atlas), and Australian electronic artist/producer Jack Prest (Jonti/Sampa The Great) to great effect.

Granfalloon began as the recording project of Richard Lomax, a producer and constant songwriter. Lomax has previously released two albums with anarchic folk collective Johnny5thWheel&thecowards including TalesOf (‘a work of genius’ – Whisperin’ & Hollerin’; ‘one of the finest folk-pop records of the year’ – God Is In The TV) through Sotones Records (Band Of Skulls/The Moulettes). Both J5W albums were named in many blogs’ top albums of the year.

After moving to Manchester in 2013, Lomax wrote and recorded 52 songs in 2014 (one per week) for the album Calendar – an ephemeral musical document of the year which saw him collaborate with different artists from week to week including future Granfalloon collaborator, synth player, Peer Van See.

After the album’s release in 2015 he put together the sonic palette for Granfalloon’s mixture of folk and electronica (folktronica), and recorded the debut Granfalloon album, Down There For Dancing, working with guitarist Dave Bertram, whose guitar lines run like liquid silver throughout the 2017 album.

To launch the second album, the band’s three piece core has expanded to five with the addition of Jim Molyneaux on drums and Hannah Ashcroft on vocals and guitar.

Support comes from Oh man, the mountain. Oh man, the mountain are a large southern gothic alt-folk band from Manchester – deadlock between the desire to live the Good Life and the Creeping Dread. They draw influence from folk and roots, southern gothic Americana, indie rock, gospel and DIY ethic. They write homespun hymns about nature, loss, sacrifice, self-worth and hope: the confusion of living and loving in a broken world.

This is a free show – but we strongly advise booking your place in advance via Ticketweb.co.uk

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Saturday 28 September 2019
Where: Aatma, First Floor, 14-16 Faraday Street, Manchester, M1 1BE

We’re delighted to be working with psychedelic rock band The Bevis Frond!

If there is any artist who could be considered as having followed a tangential path from Hendrix to Big Star to Spacemen 3, that would be The Bevis Frond… and that’s not hyperbole, the evidence is to be found in countless albums over 30 years of thrilling musical innovation that few have matched. Filtered through The Groundhogs, The Who, Neil Young, Captain Beefheart and Kevin Ayers, this is an iconoclastic collision of distinctly British psychedelia, space-rock, grunge, slow-burning soulful laments, even grizzled folk and more than occasional moments of sublime pop genius. Yet, he remains the best kept secret in Rock ‘n’ Roll – isn’t it about time you discovered one of England’s finest songwriters and insightful lyricists.

The Bevis Frond is guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire Nick Saloman who’s prolific output has seen him hailed as ‘a Hendrix devotee ever bit as tough and contemporary as the serrated guitar chorales of Sonic Youth and Pixies‘ by Rolling Stone’s David Fricke and become a cult figure in his own right.

A labour of love and fiercely independent with an uncompromising vision under his own label Woronzow, Saloman is also ex-co-publisher of respected Ptolemaic Terrascope psych magazine and owner of Sussex-based second-hand record shop. Revered by his contemporaries he has remained firmly on the periphery whilst being hugely influential.

Saloman has released no less than 22 albums under The Bevis Frond name with many collaborations and releases under various pseudonyms. Sounding as bracing today as he did then, he constantly writes with his musical journey beginning as The Bevis Frond Museum and later The Von Trap Family.

Following a motorbike accident that almost left him unable to play, he revived The Bevis Frond name using his compensation to set up a basic home recording studio. Armed with a four-track portastudio he began recording his completely self-made stunning debut Miasma.

Playing and writing everything on Miasma, the record was released through his label. Following a call from Margate’s Funhouse Records who specialised in psychedelia, they requested the album. A few weeks later requested more copies, completely taken back and now completely sold-out, he repressed. The next year tripped out Inner Marshland (1987) followed with the anglophile’s dreamscape of Termination Station Grey and epic psych-blues-rock rave up of I’ve Got Eyes in the Back of My Head.

Not expecting things to take off, Saloman began to dig out music he had written over the years and a wave of material was released including Triptych, Bevis Through The Looking Glass and Acid Jam.

Seventh album was double LP New River Head (1991) featured David Tibet and Barry Dransfield. Even stronger records ensued and the 90s brought It Just Is, Superseeder and Son of Walter.

In 2015 his 22 record, Example 22, was released to critical acclaim, produced by Nick Saloman and Dave Palmer, and featuring Paul Simmons (guitar), Bari Watts (guitar), Dave Pearce (drums, vocals) and Nick.

The Bevis Frond have ultimately become the UK’s leading underground psychedelic rock band with supporters such as comedian Stewart Lee requesting them for his self-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties. Live, the line-up today includes: Paul Simmons (guitar), Adrian Shaw (bass, vocals), Dave Pearce (drums) and Nick Saloman (vocals, guitar and sitar).

‘Arguably Britrock’s most prolific one-man cottage industry’ – Uncut

‘The main strength of the Bevis Frond is the exquisite songwriting, with pithy and poignant lyrics delivered in a very uncompromising English roots accent. Artists such as Teenage Fanclub, Elliott Smith and Mary Lou Lord have covered their songs, while he’s played with Current 93, The Hawklords, Oneida and Arthur Lee of Love, amongst many others, and counts J Mascis amongst his fans’ – The Quietus

Support comes from Fisherman Swilbert.

This show is a co-promotion with WAAIL.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Seetickets.comDice.fm and on 0871 220 0260.

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When: 7.30pm on Wednesday 2 October 2019
Where: Gullivers Lounge, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

We’re delighted to be bringing Jenn Grant back to Gullivers Lounge!

Jenn Grant’s voice and song-writing has been celebrated over the world by critics and the industry alike. She has been described as one of the ‘best singers in the world’ by her ongoing collaborator, Buck 65, ‘captivating’ by The Line Of Best Fit, and making the ‘work of a painter born in paradise’ by The Sydney Morning Herald.

The three-time JUNO-nominated singer’s seventh record, Love, Inevitable, establishes a mood of transition; sliding the old back and making room for the new. Grant recorded the album with Grammy-nominated American producer and engineer, Tucker Martine.

Love, Inevitable the follow up to 2016’s Paradise, around which Consequence of Sound called out Grant’s ‘majestic vocals’ and Stereogum noted she created ‘something that’s both a bit familiar and a little otherworldly’.

‘Grant’s gorgeous voice swoops and soars across shimmering pop anthems, folk gems, and sunset ballads’ – CBC Music

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from the bar (no booking fee), Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 8pm on Wednesday 2 October 2019
Where: Night & Day Cafe, 26 Oldham St, Manchester, M1 1JN

We’re delighted to be welcoming Sam Outlaw back to Manchester!

Sam Outlaw is a singer-songwriter living in Nashville, TN. Born Samuel Morgan in South Dakota, his stage name comes from his late mother’s maiden name.

Working as an advertising executive in his twenties, he performed small bar gigs near his home in Los Angeles starting in 2009 but kept his marketing career until 2015 – when he finally left his job to become a full-time musician. Turns out that was a good decision.

At age 33, Sam released his debut album Angeleno in 2015. Produced by Ry Cooder and Joachim Cooder, Angeleno introduced Sam as a distinctly assured voice in the country and Americana scene. The album garnered awards and critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, American Songwriter, NPR and countless others. His follow-up album, Tenderheart, gave Outlaw his first foray into self-producing and further evolved his ‘SoCal Country’ sound by introducing more elements of pop and rock music. Also a critical success, Tenderheart was heralded as one of the year’s best country albums, supported by a full tour of North America and dozens of shows in Europe.

With new music planned for 2019, Sam recently moved his wife and kids from LA to Nashville to seek a better environment for raising their two small children.

He made his Grand Ole Opry debut in May, to be followed by a European tour in the autumn.

‘Sam Outlaw has a wonderfully rich and mournful country voice’ – The Telegraph

‘A legitimate contender to be the biggest country star LA has produced since Dwight Yoakam’ – LA Weekly

This show is a co-promotion with Please Please You.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from the bar (no booking fee), Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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When: 7.30pm on Wednesday 2 October 2019
Where: Band on the Wall, 26 Swan Street, Manchester M4 5JZ

We’re delighted to be presenting the Manchester leg of The Album Leaf’s In A Safe Place European tour!

The Album Leaf have been making its mark as a soft-spoken innovator steadily and surely since 1999. One year after forming the influential San Diego instrumental group Tristeza, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy LaValle founded The Album Leaf, a solo studio project turned full-fledged live band. The diversity of The Album Leaf’s music is second only to the diversity of the music that has inspired LaValle through the years – the artist has named everything from German ambient/pysch bands like Can, Cluster and Harmonia to traditional mariachi music, electronic music and Brian Eno as some of his primary influences – and it’s clear that The Album Leaf is unafraid of thinking outside the box, both as an individual artist and within the larger scope of modern music.

Over time, The Album Leaf (now based in Los Angeles) has grown from a side endeavour to LaValle’s main focus. The project’s first releases, An Orchestrated Rise To Fall (1999) and One Day I’ll Be On Time (2001), intertwined field recordings, Rhodes piano, and a nuanced treatment of texture with mature songwriting and dense, evocative atmospheres. Following these records, which put The Album Leaf on the map for critics and fans worldwide, Icelandic band Sigur Rós discovered LaValle and took The Album Leaf on tour with them in the US, garnering the band wide exposure and recognition.

Following a European and a second US tour with Sigur Rós, LaValle left Tristeza to devote his full attention to The Album Leaf, and soon produced the highly acclaimed releases Seal Beach (2003, Acuarela discos) and In A Safe Place (2004, Sub Pop / City Slang). Since then, The Album Leaf’s influence has continued to grow. LaValle has released two more well-received full-lengths as well as tens of other releases ranging from soundtracks to collaborations with artists such as Bright Eyes and Mark Kozelek, further establishing The Album Leaf as a household name in the world of modern rock music and beyond. The Album Leaf have toured extensively across the globe, and many of the band’s songs have appeared on TV shows including Scandal, Sons of Anarchy, Suits, and more. In 2016, the band partnered with renowned label Relapse Records for the release of the group’s sixth studio album, Between Waves, and first since 2010’s A Chorus Of Storytellers (Sub Pop). The album was born out of a thorough reinvention of LaValle’s creative process and approach: Between Waves is The Album Leaf’s first full-length record to be recorded with the band’s current lineup, and was written with greater emphasis on the group dynamic (the album was also entirely recorded and produced by LaValle and the band).

This European tour, however, is a celebration of In A Safe Place, to mark its 15th anniversary.

Tour support comes from Joyero. Joyero is the new songwriting project of Andy Stack, signed to Merge Records. In addition to his role as one half of Wye Oak, Stack has gained notoriety in recent years as a multi-instrumental collaborator with Lambchop, EL VY, Helado Negro, Madeline Kenney and Thor Harris, among others.

This is a 10+ show. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Band on the Wall’s box office (no booking fee), Vinyl Exchange, Ticketline.co.ukWegottickets.com and on 0871 220 0260.

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When: 7.30pm on Thursday 3 October 2019
Where: HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN

We’re delighted to be presenting Jesca Hoop at HOME!

A culmination of life and musical experience, uncompromising in its vision, STONECHILD, the new studio album from Jesca Hoop is a self-described ‘compassion project’.

Released on July 5th by Memphis Industries, STONECHILD is Hoop refined and defined. Beautiful, subtle and stark, her fifth album, the follow up to 2017’s highly acclaimed Memories Are Now, is her best yet.

Despite being a long term resident of Manchester, Hoop has until now returned to her native California to record. This time round however, ‘it was,’ according to Hoop, ‘time to step out of my comfort zone, my safe place,’ venturing south to Bristol to team up with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding, This is the Kit). Parish’s minimal and purist approach helped clarify Hoop in her ideas and subtly yet effectively realigning her sound. The simplified arrangements draw focus to the fundamental sophistication of the songs.

While Hoop’s trademark finger-plucked guitar and ethereal textures remain, the songs and their presentation are ever more direct. Parish ‘was a gentle collaborator until he killed one of my darlings’ Hoop jests. ‘I’ve never been so brutally edited, and I wasn’t shy about expressing my discomfort at the sight of my work on the cutting room floor. He said, you will forgive me, and in some way I think I actually enjoyed that treatment…being stripped back to the bare basics… albeit painfully.’ STONECHILD ventures further into fresh territory with other voices joining the narrative, with Kate Stables (aka This is the Kit), Rozi Plain and Lucius singing the choruses and expanding the sensual depth of the sonic bloom.

Embedded in Hoop’s song writing is an inherent unpredictability something she ascribes to being ‘guided more from instinct than study’. Perhaps more than ever before, STONECHILD sees Hoop lead us through uncharted landscapes across the course of the album. ‘When I look at the history of my life, I realise I have the breakdown of not only my parents’ marriage but also the breakdown of their parenting to thank for the wild and unexpected course that my life would take. I went looking for a raw and rugged world. the opposite of what I was raised in.’

The album title was settled after a trip to a Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, where the STONECHILD is a sad, compelling display of an unborn foetus carried by a woman for over 30 years. ‘They become a hard ball of bones, a rock. Phonetically, it’s a beautiful sounding word – hard and soft – but also, I am taken by the idea of carrying something for a long time, perhaps in secret and then giving it up. I hope I have made an album of substance. There is meat on the bone.’

Special guest is Chloe Foy. Chloe Foy writes a brand of melodic, homegrown music, bursting with colourful lyrical and textural inflections evocative of much of the music she loves. Taking inspiration from classical music as much as wider transatlantic trends in folk and indie, Chloe’s songs comprise of carefully constructed arrangements that delicately compliment her cryptic lyrics.

This is a 10+ show. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Book tickets now. Tickets are also available through Homemcr.org, via the venue’s box office and on 0161 200 1500.

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When: 7.30pm on Tuesday 8 October 2019
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

We’re delighted to be working with Old Crow Medicine Show’s Chance McCoy for the first time!

Chance McCoy is a Grammy Award-winning indie folk musician from West Virginia.

‘It can be scary to step away from something that’s been so successful,’ says Chance McCoy, ‘but it’s important to follow your passion. I really believe in the music that I’m making right now, so it feels like the right time for me as an artist to get off the main road and explore the path less trodden.’

A virtuoso fiddler, guitarist, and banjo player, McCoy is best known as a member of Grammy-winning Americana powerhouse Old Crow Medicine Show – but Wander Wide, his debut solo album, reveals a remarkable depth and versatility far beyond anything we’ve heard from him yet. Captivating in its cross of the traditional and the progressive, the record shows little regard for the conventional boundaries of genre and decade, blending old-school bluegrass melodies with modern rock and roll arrangements and rich, atmospheric production. McCoy based the album off of a live residency show he put on weekly at The Basement in Nashville, and the studio recordings here tap into the same exuberant energy he brought to the stage every night, complete with dazzling performances that unexpectedly twist and turn, sometimes transitioning from one tune to the next within the same track.

‘This whole record was built to be performed live,’ explains McCoy. ‘We recorded everything exactly the way we played it at the Basement, just three people making music together in the moment. Even my vocals were recorded live. It was really important for me to capture that feel.’

Special guest is Jon Coley. Jon plays an eclectic mix of Blues, soul and folk, mixed with fresh original songwriting, and is making a name for himself for his unique guitar playing. He is influenced by performers such as Nick Drake, John Mayer, Bert Jansch, Wizz Jones and especially John Martyn, and is known for his passionate vocal performances, reminiscent of Van Morrison and Amos Lee. He has quickly become a legendary figure in his present home of Manchester, and his family’s native Liverpool, where his grandfather worked to book bands for the Cavern Club alongside Bobby Wooler and owner Ray McFall.

‘Beautiful songwriting… I hear echoes of old friends in his playing’ – Ralph McTell

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from the bar (no booking fee), Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Sunday 13 October 2019
Where: The Eagle Inn, 19 Collier Street, Salford, M3 7DW

We’re delighted to present a new series of free entry shows at the Eagle Inn – with the second night featuring Vancouver quartet Dumb.

Dumb is the new smart. Don’t believe us? Look no further than this ridiculously prolific Vancouver quartet, who have somehow cracked the code on including quality with their quantity. Over the last two years, Dumb have self-released three albums of quirky, frenetic post-punk. While others might go stale, however, the band seems to break new ground with each new idea. Enter Seeing Green, the band’s first full-length for Mint Records. The album’s 14 tracks were produced by Jordan Koop (Wolf Parade, You Say Party, the Courtneys) at the Noise Floor on Gabriola Island, BC. While it’s the band’s first time working on this relatively larger scale, Koop’s production has simply crystallised their ideas.

The result is a batch of songs that sound both urgent and timeless, referencing classic post-punk projects like DEVO, Pylon or the Mekons while placing them nicely within the pantheon of Canadian contemporaries like Ought, Fountain and Freak Heat Waves. Musically, Seeing Green’s jagged guitars and punchy rhythm section lay a perfect basis for their lyrics, all of which explore the inherent absurdity of modern life. As frontman Franco Rossino says, ‘The album revolves around a confused and angry young person unknowingly being tossed around by the same western capitalist conditioning that we’ve all been raised on. Green in this sense refers to being a novice, as well as to money, envy, and growth. It’s meant to be somewhat of a self-aware exaggeration of some feelings in our every day lives that we often don’t want to admit to and may even lie to ourselves about.’

At times paranoid and other times exuberant, Seeing Green dares you to dance and deconstruct. It’s a trim, explosive collection of songs that suggests these four will be cranking out hits for years to come. It’s time to get Dumb.

‘Vancouver’s Dumb make loud, snotty, smartass indie rock with wirey guitars and buckets of attitude. It’s like a whole band made of Jimbos from The Simpsons and Eddie Haskels from Leave it to Beaver by way of Los Angeles 1980 new wave punk. (Except Canadian.) Their shouty, catchy songs rarely go past two minutes, but pack in maximum hooks and choruses’ – Bill Pearis, Brooklyn Vegan

‘Seeing Green is half-sleepy and half-skittish, reminiscent of Desperate Bicycles only not as loosey-goosey. For the most part, unless you’re, say, Beat Happening, it takes a great deal of hard work to make what you do look easy, and Dumb are a glowing example of such an idea’ – Martin Douglas, KEXP

‘Their track Hard Sea comes rampaging out of the gate with a squalling noise burst and bouncing, propulsive bassline, like James Chance jamming with the Minutemen, whilst getting particularly agitated about a swooping seabird. Really’ – Ro Cemm, The Line of Best Fit

Local support comes from Mister Strange. Mister Strange are a Manchester garage rock outfit featuring members of Fruit Tones, Leather Party and Holy Drone. Their sound draws heavily from their mutual love of garage rock both old and new, Black Sabbath, The Stooges and West Coast psychedelia. Unashamedly loud. Proudly noisy.

This is a free show – but we strongly advise booking your place in advance via Ticketweb.co.uk

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Monday 14 October 2019
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

We’re delighted to be promoting the Manchester leg of Skating Polly and She Makes War’s co-headline tour!

Skating Polly, the multi-instrumentalist duo of Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, started their band in Oklahoma in 2009. Admittedly the female-driven alternative acts that inspired the band such as Veruca Salt, X, The Breeders, L7 and Babes In Toyland (the later of whom Skating Polly toured with in Europe) aren’t typical reference points for most of today’s up-and-coming bands, but maybe they should be. ‘The thing that we identify with in a lot of those bands is that they can be really aggressive and loud while also being super melodic,’ Kelli explains, adding that the new dynamic in the band helped them be more expansive when it came to their sound and arrangements. ‘Everything happened very smoothly when Kurtis became part of the band. It just felt natural having him there and writing with him.’ In typical Skating Polly fashion, the trio will still be switching instruments live, something that’s become a hallmark of their performances and one that opens up more possibilities with the additional instrumentation on their latest long-player The Make It All Show.

 

Speaking of live shows, Skating Polly really need to be seen in a club to fully grasp what makes them so special. That’s probably why Kate Nash took them out on her European tour. ‘It can get pretty chaotic when we’re playing. People have said it feels like it could fall apart at any moment but in a good way,’ Bighorse says with a laugh. ‘We try to make our music honest and engaging and I think that’s what drew us to people like Nina and Louise or Exene; you can probably guess a lot of the acts that we love, but we’re able to keep making music that always sounds like us,’ Mayo explains. ‘We really try to make the songs the focus instead of trying to flaunt technical musical abilities,’ adds Bighorse – and that honesty and optimism is why everyone from legendary musical figures as well as hardcore fans have gravitated toward Skating Polly’s music. The Make It All Show is the most fully realised work by Skating Polly yet and hints at an even brighter future for one of rock’s most promising acts.

She Makes War is the solo project of Bristol-based multi-instrumentalist producer and visual artist Laura Kidd. Blending urgent indie rock with melancholy torch songs, her latest album Brace For Impact was released in October 2018 via My Big Sister Recordings and reached #15 in the Official Independent Album Chart.

‘Reminding us of Medúlla-era Björk… she’s ace’ – Lauren Laverne, BBC 6 Music

‘A triumph of gorgeous melodies, slashy guitars and processed beats’ – Rock Sound

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from the bar (no booking fee), Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Thursday 17 October 2019
Where: The Eagle Inn, 19 Collier Street, Salford, M3 7DW

We continue our series of free entry shows at the Eagle Inn – with the Manchester debut of Chicago trio Dehd.

Love is everyday magic. That’s the impression you get listening to Water, the new album by Chicago trio Dehd. Love rises up into the atmosphere like steam off a summer sidewalk and makes you wild. Love breaks your heart and you consider yourself lucky for it. Like water itself, it surrounds us, it supports us; it’s what we’re made of. It takes the shape of its container.

That’s something Jason Balla, Emily Kempf, and Eric McGrady discovered quickly after forming Dehd in 2014. Balla and Kempf are both veterans of Chicago’s increasingly fruitful DIY scene (Balla with Ne-Hi and Earring, Kempf with Vail and formerly with Lala Lala). When they joined forces with first-time drummer Eric McGrady, they discovered they shared a strange and inexplicable chemistry. The music they make — hazy and reverb-drenched, a scuzzy and hyped-up take on surf rock that could only come from the Third Coast — came so intuitively, it made all three feel like they were stewards of something bigger than themselves, even while that very thing is unmistakably drawn from their own personalities. ‘There’s always been this easy grace about the band because we purely just love doing it,’ Balla says of their immediate coherence.

That easy relatability was tested around the time they began working on Water in August 2017, when Balla and Kempf, who had been dating since the band’s inception, went through an agonising breakup. ‘Realistically, when you have a breakup, you want to isolate yourself and cut yourself off from one another,’ Balla says. Instead, Dehd went on tour. The time in the van did them good, forcing each of them to come to terms with the way they felt about one another — and about the band.

‘We processed our breakup through the scope of the band,’ Kempf explains, leading them to realise that the music they were making as Dehd was more important than the dissolution of their romantic relationship — and that the musical connection between the three of them was even deeper than they’d imagined. ‘Every time we write music together or play shows, the chemistry between the three of us seems rare and worth holding on to,’ Balla says.

‘I don’t take it for granted,’ Kempf adds. ‘We love each other — in the truest sense of the word “love”.’

That might be why Water never comes across as cheap or exploitative, and why it doesn’t rely on any Rumours-esque interband drama for its power. Throughout, both Kempf and Balla — who composed the lion’s share of the material in live improvisation with McGrady in their Chicago practice space — sound fresh and alive, like they’ve each returned from a journey and are here to share what they’ve learned; it’s virtually impossible to imagine them on the opposite sides of a conflict.

In fact, Water finds Dehd’s three members united as they push themselves beyond their natural limits and end up in places they wouldn’t have imagined. Balla’s production incorporates flubbed notes and dropped beats, and it emphasises he and Kempf’s occasionally strained voices. It’s all animated by the red-lining feel-good spirit of the Velvet Underground’s Loaded and the breezy melodicism of C86-era indie rock, with a dash of the Cramps’ spooky-hop bop courtesy of McGrady’s locomotive drumming.

Which makes Water feel like a different kind of record: It’s at once a mature and grounded look at adult relationships, and a raucous celebration of friendship, and a cracked piece of purely musical bliss. It’s a clear-eyed look at the wild nature of everyday life that’s been spun up in sugary sweet melodies and scratched-crystal sounds. More than anything, it’s the embodiment of Dehd’s m.o. from the start: As Kempf puts it, ‘Work with what you have and make it magical.’

This is a free show – but we strongly advise booking your place in advance via Ticketweb.co.uk

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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