Written by Caleb Allport
Photography by Evan Soule
A baltic Manchester evening (partnered with the cities infamous wet climate) played host to Do Your Best record label’s first residency show at The Old Abbey Taphouse. The Old Abbey is a “community hub in a pub” located in the south of Manchester’s city centre outskirts, within the shadows of nearby universities and the whiff of Hulme’s Heineken Factory to invade the nostrils. This pub/venue/eatery/community centre provides an intimate setting and authentic feel for the night’s show to begin its unravelling.
The first of three acts to grace the room come in the shape of Tigers and Flies. Deriving from the seaside town of Brighton, the four piece are now Manchester based and have an audience in abundance, considering their early opening slot.
The first thing you notice when Tigers and Flies take to the stage is trumpet and fugal player, Matteo Fernandes. It didn’t take long for Matteo to come into his own during the outro of the night’s opening track Not Today.
The band recently released their debut album Among Everything Else and claim to create a sound “akin to Orange Juice merged with The Pale Fountains hurtling their way through Wire’s back catalogue”. Whilst this is heard, lead singer Arthur Arnold’s raw guitar tone and chord progressions often provide a nostalgic nod to a 00’s British Indie Rock sound.
To the stage left of Arthur sits Arvin Johnson on drums. Arvin’s drumming style combines flavours of funk, jazz and post punk. The concoction makes for a gripping watch in partnership with bassist and co-vocalist Eddie Wigin.
Tigers and Flies appear to let their music do the talking – which is by no means a bad thing.
Their instrumental abilities make for an enjoyable live experience. With thanks to the likes
of Black Country New Road and Squid, they portray a sound that is particularly on trend.
However, the group’s take is fresh and it should be expected to be hear more from them in
the months to come.
The second act of the night are main supports MFP (AKA My Fat Pony). MFP share a similarity with Tigers and Flies in the sense that they both feature brass components. Trumpeter Kate Walker translates a fiesta-like atmosphere to the room, placing her at the forefront of the bands vibrant energy.
Heads bob from the very beginning of the set, the crowd’s engagement increases as the traditional punk element’s within their sound are displayed. One crowd member’s enthusiasm is widely acknowledged as they continue to dance with a repeated pump of the fist to the air - despite the pause between songs.
The band’s energy persists throughout. The set list packs a punch and their melodies linger in the brain. Lead vocalist Felix Knox’s lyrical hook of “Student’s Are Revolting” in the appropriately titled track Students, remains at the front of peoples lips in the smoking area following the set’s end.
MFP’s performance raises the intensity of the night. A strong, natural progression to ready the crowd for what is about to unfold. Like Tigers and Flies, MFP would be an appropriate fit with Radio 6 Music’s roster of rousing new wave post (post post post) punk artists.
‘Genre-Fluid’ headline act YAANG were up next. After Ben White’s patient wait at the bar for half a lager, the trio assume their positions. In comparison to when a number of the audience had last seen YAANG perform, the group has had a couple of noticeable alterations and additions. Ben (as previously mentioned) can now be seen as YAANG’s third member and bass guitarist.
Founding member Davey Moore is seen with a vocal mic brushing his rather eccentric moustache and a snazzy KORG electribe sampler below his fingers; providing the drum beats, pad work and general sonic adlibs that the band spring upon the audience throughout. Co-founding member, Oliver Duffy appears to be missing a similar piece of kit that previously shared the stage with himself, Davey and his sampler.
Oliver now decorates himself with the Epiphone Freebird electric guitar, famously played by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Allen Collins. The anticipation to hear what this new dynamic has to offer is felt through the crowd that had not yet had the privilege.
The set begins with the familiar track of Security Dave; a single released in late November 2020 and has since proved to be one of the band’s most popular tracks. As the group of enticers continue to play, Security Dave’s music video rolls in the background of the pub’s conveniently placed television.
The addition of live bass guitar from Ben presents the ears with another dimension to YAANG’s live sound. His slick basslines thicken the crust of the bands product.
The permanent fixture of Ollie’s guitar work only adds to the success of YAANG’s evolution. Through Oliver’s playing, you can hear his rock influences shred, screech and splutter through the amp - a complement to the electronic aspects of the band.
After the final strum and press of hit-single Lose Hold Of You (released via Slow Dance Records), Davey highlights the issue of his Korg dying a premature death. “I bought some pound shop batteries before the gig ‘cus me wire broke” he says in his Stokie twang. To entertain the patient crowd, Oliver performs a heart warming rendition of Hold My Life by The Replacements. The band handled the situation well; taking ownership of unforeseen circumstances and enhancing the charm of their stage presence.
YAANG’s set presents a cluster of new material that is well received by the crowd. New track, Wet Socks Yellow appears to bring out a confidence boost in Davey. The frontman’s stage presence is flamboyant, charismatic and selectively comedic too. His vocals force the trio of Shaun Ryder, Jason Williamson and Elvis Presley to come to mind - An unlikely combination that works competently.
The set takes a different turn in Tracy Beaker. The track emotionally engages its audience expressed through dance and cheer. Tracy Beaker is an ambient, melancholic work that features effectively within the set.
After a brief audience interaction featuring Davey and the dissociation game, final track of the night Sex Shop Doom Pop bellows through the room - a fine fit for a big finale. SSDP leads to a raucous experience: Ben’s humorous adlibs, Davey’s collaborative dance with various members of the crowd creates an entertaining watch. Upon Davey’s return to the stage, an enthused Ollie hands his band member the guitar, as the two swap instruments for a destructive finish.
YAANG are an anomaly. Their sound, aesthetic, character and energy delivers an alternative live experience that is a joy to witness. Their development as a band over the last couple of years has led to a meteoric rise in their capability, efficiency and entertainment value. If you were to dissect the band by each and every component, you would be left with the question of how the fuck it all works. Nevertheless, YAANG are a productive chaos compiled into a gift of sheer beauty for all to enjoy.