LIVE: Red Fang, Torche & God Damn – Academy 2, Manchester 30/09/2016
© Photos: John Gilleese. All images are subject to copyright laws. All rights reserved.
Words: Nick Spragg.
It’s a manically busy Friday night in Manchester, what with it being payday for most folk and a few thousand students being back in town, Uber prices are off the charts and everyone seems to be hitting one gig or another making the Student Union one bustling hub of live music. Out of all the gigs in the complex though, the pick of the bunch is definitely in the upstairs Academy 2 where US sluggers Red Fang are headlining.
There are support bands and then there’s God Damn. Playing the biggest stage I’ve seen them on in Manchester and fleshed back out to a three piece, the Black Country bastards absolutely tear Academy 2 a new one. Current darlings of the Manc indie scene Blossoms have sold out the larger Academy 1 tonight, and if they’re not shitting their backsides off at this racket, I’d be very surprised indeed.
God Damn’s latest record Everything Ever may be a more melodic release than their debut, but tonight the songs off it are set to warp factor 12, with the Orange cabs blasting out a throat-rattling growl. Guitarist/vocalist Thom definitely seems to enjoy meandering frontman duties, as a cap-stealing escapade during Sing This attests and Dead To Me is belted out with the pent up fury of Nirvana at their angular best.
Being a three piece really works for God Damn, as the electronic elements of their sound battle back against Ash’s insanely powerful drumming, while Thom and the newly introduced former guitar tech James (“what’s the point in having a tech who’s better on guitar than you are”) swap axe duties. A swirlingly psychedelic yet vicious Vultures is fired out with amazing ferocity, and God Damn really feel like they’re on the cusp of something big with their best and heaviest performance in this city to date.
Following that set would be tough for anyone, but Miami bruisers Torche certainly don’t seem fazed as they plough into their 45 minute set and drummer Rick Smith breaks a stick on their very first song. For those not in the know, Torche pedal a hypnotic brand of sludge overlaid by Steve Brooks’ ethereal croon, and it’s head-noddingly pleasing on first listen. For all the groove in their sound though, there just doesn’t seem to be enough variation or on-stage banter to hold interest and a few punters drift to the bar early rather than stick around for the full set.
It’s a bit of a weird time for Red Fang to be hitting the UK, with their new record Only Ghosts not out for a couple of weeks yet, but nevertheless they’ve pulled in a decent crowd as they attack a swaggering Wires. New material seems well-received too, with beer flying during No Air and Cut It Short, and the crowd are rewarded with Sharks and Bird On Fire from the band’s self-titled debut.
Red Fang have never taken themselves particularly seriously, but that’s not to say they don’t put on a show. In the live arena they’re heavy, groove-laden and most importantly for a stoner band, their songs are actually interesting rather than repetitive dirges, as evidenced by the closing three-way of Hank Is Dead, 1516 and Throw Up, as well as crowd-pleasing encores Dirt Wizard and Prehistoric Dog. Hair flails and horns are aloft as the audience bid the band farewell, and as we exit and mix with the crowds from the other gigs taking place tonight, it’s clear who’s had the most fun.