It’s been a while since I’ve set foot in Ruby Lounge. Not because the music has suffered a dip in form, the standard here always being excellent and tonight’s line-up being no exception, but more to do with a misunderstanding I had on my last visit between a lady, her rather large boyfriend and a pint of warm lager…
Anyway, as I was saying, tonight’s event was a real treat for the thrifty minded gig goer, with four bands crammed into the evening. Kicking off proceedings were White Vinyl. Taking to the stage clad in the classic Manchester band uniform of leather jackets and paisley shirts, they performed an Oasish-esque set complete with Mancunian swagger. Despite lacking in originality, moments of inventiveness shone through that were slightly let down by musicianship, something that will only improve given time and gigs.
In a previous article for Quenched I openly declared my love for the next band of the night’s EP ‘Get Japan On The Phone’ so I was more than a little excited to see how it went down live. Opener ‘Louis TherouXXX’ set the tone, ripping and roaring it’s way out of the PA like a wild animal, urged on by an energetic display from the band who gave their all throughout. The EP material was by far the strongest, with a couple of filler tracks lacking the same class, but from a band so early in their formation, they can be forgiven for having only the four world beating songs so far.
It always seems a cliché to compare any guitar and drums duo to one of two bands (I’ll give you a clue, they’ve both got types of colours in their names) but with The Calimocho Club it’s almost impossible not to. The Black Keys were stamped all over their set to the extent that you half expected a lawyer representing The Black Keys to step on stage and demand they desist at once. With riffs plagiarised from ‘Rubber Factory’, The Calimocho Club failed to summon up the power or control of melody that The Black Keys pull off so well.
Headlining was the female fronted Those Darlins. Opening with ‘Screws Loose’, the title track off their new album, a jangly, feel good 60’s vibe seems to hit you at first before a dark undercurrent is revealed, like a Beatles album played in reverse to reveal the “satanic” messages. Playful tunes are juxtaposed against dark lyrics, the vampish looking Jessi Darlin singing “I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you, you just wanna stick it in”, delivered with the dead pan, wide eyed expression of Wednesday from The Addams Family. A punkier, garage rock side emerges at times on tracks such as ‘Night Jogger’, which is sensually delivered by Nikki Darlin who straddles the barrier at the front.
A few songs in and some heckling strikes up. Flipping the situation on it’s head, they turn down all the onstage lighting and turn on the houselights, imploring those who were criticising them moments before to be more entertaining. The set proceeds to a triumphant ending, buoyed along by wave after wave of catchy chorus’s which leave me singing under my breath all the way to the train station where I stop because, quite frankly, a bloke on his own in a train station at night muttering under his breath just looks a bit crazy. This aside, Those Darlins played a set full of intrigue and variety, proving themselves to be a road hardened unit and a force to be reckoned with.
Words by Jonny Lewis