Hot Snakes/Liines/Hopper Propelled Electric – Manchester, Gorilla – 25 January 2018 Print E-mail
Written by DJ Astrocreep   
Wednesday, 31 January 2018 04:40

Another winter's night, another gig in Manchester. Yet another clash of gigs, as Hollywood Undead are playing nearby, as are RavenEye, and a couple of local band nights, one featuring personal favourites Witch Tripper, meaning it's great for choice for an audience, but not if you want to be present at most of them! With previous issues of clashes causing low attendances fairly fresh in my mind, I head over to catch the night's action.


Hopper Propelled Electric logoFirst on are Hopper Propelled Electric from Oldham, who have a very Americana/ rockabilly feel. The crowd is fairly sparse at first but slowly people drip in to hear our first support. There are some pretty good bass hooks through the set, with some very good drum work too, to top off an impressive vocal/guitar combination, giving the impression that they would easily have fitted in back in the ‘50s and early ‘60s in terms of their sound. The drummer is kicking so hard, in fact, that their merch person has to quickly run out and push the kick drum back to her between songs, as it's being kicked clean away, bracing it against a stage monitor to avoid any further movement. There is a slight offness to the guitar tone at times, which is very reminiscent of a lot of the rhythm and blues bands of the era and suits their style completely. Add in a relentless pace that sees songs all but merge into each other and they earn the good level of applause they draw from the third full crowd at the end of their set.


Main support tonight are Liines, an all-female trio as more local support, though things go a bit darker here with a post-punk edge to their music. The drums are very much towards a Joy Division sound, with the bass providing a lot of the emphasis for songs and an overlay of vocals and guitar to add in the final ingredients. The guitar is, at times, minimalistic, which very much adds to the Joy Division feel mentioned earlier, while this is helped even further by the vocal style of Zoe. They are obviously not known by the busy crowd, who show little reaction during songs at first, though their attention is being well and truly held by Liines. This changes as the set continues, with more heads starting to nod and feet tap, as they clearly reel in the crowd throughout their set, bit by bit, until they get a loud, positive reaction at the end of their set. With a performance like this, it's no wonder they're already signed up to Reckless Yes Records.


Finally, then, on to our headline band in Hot Snakes, San Diego's post-hardcore act, formed in 1999. While not a sell-out, it is a very busy crowd, who chatter excitedly waiting for the band to take to the stage. From the first track, a small moshpit briefly breaks out, in response to the immediate fast pace. Billy Corgan-esque vocals sear over the appreciative audience, while a relentless rhythm guitar blasts out alongside heavy drumming, diving the same handful of people into another small moshpit.


Hot Snakes


The energy from the crowd continues as the band move straight into their fifth song of the set, the pit opening up a touch more. The guitars are at times abrasive, building up to a crescendo of noisy dissonance of music and almost screamed vocals that just pulls back from the edge of going too far, but one that you can't help but both like and appreciate. The melodies are exactly what you would expect, whether that's the lead guitar overlays, or in the general harmonies throughout the band in-between the bouts of dissonance.


Continuing on the set at breakneck speed, the only respite from the at times purposefully oppressive levels is when a quick retuning is needed, giving mere seconds before they kick right into the next track. A quick mention is made of the passing of Mark E Smith as a drummer change occurs and the guitars all retune before a short silence proceeds the recommencement of the set. The songs continue along a very much beauty and the beast kind of vibe, as light guitar hooks pass over harmonies as the music continues to build up and up, before hitting that crescendo of noise again and bringing it back down. It's also very refreshing to note I am one of only three people using their phones throughout the gig (hey, a reviewer has to make his notes somehow!), something that I wish was a more regular occurrence, having seen most of the previous night's gig through various phones, as above head height for many others is eye level to me.


The band leave the stage for a minute to catch their breath, before returning with the earlier drummer, to perform a final three songs, before a breathless thank you to their fans. The audience reaction, even those who don't edge in at various times to the pit, is great right the way through, with loud, appreciative applause and whistles where any slight bits of silence crop up between songs. The breakneck pace never really stops but the crowd carry on regardless. A night that will stay in their, and my own, memories for a long, long time.


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