The official ‘Mutations’ opening party
MOA MOA + SHADY BABY + SLANT + GUS TIRAMANI – GREEN DOOR STORE, BRIGHTON 2.11.22
So the annual ‘Mutations Festival‘ 2022 has finally arrived in Brighton! Before the event kicks off officially tomorrow with first act of the day Jemima Coulter at Latest Music Bar from 4:15pm to 4:45pm, there’s the small matter of ‘The Official Mutations Festival Opening Party’ tonight at the Green Door Store being hosted by ‘Slack City‘ Radio.
The green doors were swung open for the punters at 7pm for the free entry ticketed event that has surprisingly sold out within 24 hours!. On the bill this evening were Gus Tiramani from 7:30pm, Slant from 8:15pm, Shady Baby from 9pm, and Moa Moa from 9:45pm. The reason for the early finish being that from 11pm local promoter ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ is hosting a Club Night that features a live set from The Famous People, followed by DJ sets from Peroni Boys and also Happy2000.
We have previously featured three of this evening’s acts, but opener Gus Tiramani was a new discovery for us, or so we thought! When Gus and his chums took to the Green Door Store stage, I had seen his face before, but I couldn’t recall where, but I knew it was from a band that I had seen. I was correct as it was none other than Gus Taylor, bassist and vocalist of The Magic Gang who we had reviewed at the Komedia on 30th January 2019 – Read that article HERE.
I’m not sure if he is still in the outfit, but they played a show in September. Gus informed us that this evening was his first ever so as Gus Tiramani and the room was almost full from the very beginning of the set, which was impressive. The mainly student age punters really seemed into his sound right from the outset, which leads me to conclude that there are quite possibly some fans of The Magic Gang present this evening, and some of his friends too.
The six tune set lasted only 22 minutes, from 7:47pm to 8:09pm, but in that time they certainly left their mark! Gus was out front and as you would expect in charge of lead vocals as well as playing his Epiphone guitar. He introduced his chums to us during the performance, and I think I heard that they were Arthur on Fender bass and backing vocals, Andrew on Squier guitar, Nord Electro 6 keys, and backing vocals, Paris was on drums, and finally Fin was on Nord Grand keys and backing vocals.
The quintet offered up melodic toe tapping dreampop with a heartfelt soul vibe, which would easily sit in on the playlists of BBC Radio 1, 2 and 6. Track three, ‘I’m Living For You’ was certainly a tune to smooch too, and song five ‘Where There Are Shadows’ went down as well as all of Gus’ material. Clearly this is a new venture and I only found him on Twitter, but keep your eyes peeled for more from him and his band, as if judging by the almost deafening applause at the end of his set is anything to go by, then the future is looking very bright for Gus.
After a live music break of only 19 minutes it was time for former BIMM students, Slant, which is stylized as ‘SLANT’, to entertain us. This certainly wouldn’t be very difficult, as we have reviewed these guys several times before and they always go down well. Our last encounter being a matter of weeks ago, when they supported LIFE at Patterns on 11th October – Review HERE.
SLANT consists of Katy Smith and Frankie Stanley sharing vocal and Korg keyboard duties, with Frankie also occasionally playing a Squier guitar, Jamie Broughton on Fender guitar and backing vocals, James Virtue on Fender bass and backing vocals, and Aurora Bennett on drums and backing vocals.
They quite often get singled out as an entertaining support action and have aided a number of varying acts over the past year. We have witnessed them sharing the bill with The Wendy James Band at Patterns on 30th September 2021, THUMPER at The Prince Albert on 27th October 2021, Dream Wife at Chalk on 20th May 2022, The Regrettes at Patterns on 25th June 2022, and the aforementioned LIFE at Patterns on 11th October 2022, and that’s just the ones we have seen! They’ll also be joining the likes of legends Pulp, SELF ESTEEM and Confidence Man at ‘Neighbourhood Weekender’ in Warrington next summer!
The reason for this is SLANT are ploughing their own furrow and are rather difficult to pigeonhole into just one style of music. They themselves say that they “are an inter-galactic powerhouse” who draw “glam-rock back out of the ether and merging it with a riot grrrl energy”. They already have several releases behind them, debut single ‘Haircut’ followed by ‘La Danse’ (both 2020)’, 4-track EP ‘My Friends Are All Machines’ featuring ‘Wallow City’, 2021 single ‘Eat The Moon’, ‘Nightcrawlers’ and 2022 single ‘75” TV Screen’. Those in themselves would be enough to fill this evening’s 27 minute set!
The quintet hit the stage at 8:28pm and performed no less than 8 tunes until their close at 8:55pm. This indicates that all of their compositions hover around the perfect pop three minute mark. At different times during their set, I once again pick up on the same influences in their look and sound. For example, Katy sounded like Kate Bush during their ‘Haircut’ single, and both girls’ eyes tend to have so much expression during their live performances. Best track, ‘Young Forever’, starts with dreamy guitar from Jamie and girls both at times sounding like Clare Grogan of Altered Images, whilst Aurora plays a marching band drumming parody.
Katy makes good use of the cowbell for ‘Shopping Song’, which is a catchy dance number featuring the repeated lyrics “I went to the shops today to get myself some dinner”. It has the vibe of a combination of ‘Pssyche’ (Killing Joke), ‘Call Me’ (Blondie) and ‘In The Navy’ (The Village People). They once again sign off with ‘Driving 123456!’, which has a modern funky vibe and Frankie’s vocals reminded me of ‘Lucky Number’ (Lene Lovich) as well as an overall feel of The Rezillos. This was another enjoyable set from this fun band!
Katy Smith – vocals, Korg keys, cowbell
Frankie Stanley – vocals, Korg keys, Squier guitar
Aurora Bennett – drums
Jamie Broughton – Fender guitar
James Virtue – Fender bass
‘For The Love Of God Girl’
‘It’s The Same’
Act three of the night was indie-rock/punk newcomers Shady Baby who we recently witnessed here at the Green Door Store for day two of their annual ‘234 Fest’ – Review HERE.
The outfit consists of Brighton-based Sam Leaver and his old childhood friend Laurie Debnam, with Nick Varnava and Tom Jackson completing the line-up. Sam is on lead vocals and plays Epiphone guitar, Laurie’s on Fender guitar, Nick is in charge of an Ibanez Mikro (which is perfect for young rockers, or as Nick put it to me “it’s a bass for kids”, but don’t be filled by that, it certainly packs power), and finally Tom can be found sitting to the rear behind moa moa’s drumkit, which is used by all four acts this evening. This greatly helps with a rapid turnover!
They entertained the full room for 32 minutes (from 9:19pm to 9:51pm) and let loose on eight exciting numbers. I reckon that this is now about their eleventh or twelfth performance, but they seem so tight already. They must practise quite a bit, or maybe they just have “it”.
From the very first notes of tune one (‘Starting To Slip’), they showed the punters exactly what they were all about. Tune two, ‘Lonely Town’ – the B-side of their new ‘Come To Life’ 7” single, that I incidentally purchased tonight for £8 from the band – sees Sam’s vocals mimicking a Heartbreakers and Stooges American punk slur, which is most pleasing. I wasn’t the only person present to think this. Track three was ‘Feel It Too’ and this continues with the retro 1970’s US punk vibe. It was here that I was thinking to myself, that these lads really do need to apply to play Rebellion 2023 in Blackpool, as they would go down a storm.
Laurie was flitting between his Fender guitar and his Squier guitar for the performance, but the Squier’s strap had given way and he was forced to sit on the stage and play it. Sam’s Epiphone guitar strap also gave him problems as well, but the lads weren’t phased and carried on! Sh*t happens…move on!
Shady Baby are a fab band and it’s no wonder that they have already picked up support and airplay from the likes of BBC Radio 1 and Radio X. I have a good vibe for these lads as they are certainly showing promise.
Halfway in the set, for tunes four and five, they took things to a smoother level with ‘All Too Late’ and ‘Master Of None’. Their ‘Come To Life’ single got an airing next, and I was thinking that although it’s a single, for me personally it’s far from their best track. They closed with ‘Held In’ and ‘Let It Slide’, both of which are epic and remind me of THUMPER. Something that I conveyed to members of Shady Baby after their set. They were most pleased! The all out punk of the guitars and drums on ‘Let It Slide’ was my highlight of the night. At 9:51pm they had done their bit and were rewarded with very loud applause from the packed room! Job done lads!
Their next gig in Brighton is at The Prince Albert on 22nd November supporting Hallan, who the band supported in Paris back in August and they told me that “Hallan are sick!”. With that recommendation, you had better purchase your tickets HERE then.
Sam Leaver – vocals and guitar
Laurie Debnam – guitar
Nick Varnava – bass
Tom Jackson – drums
Shady Baby setlist:
‘Starting To Slip’
‘Feel It Too’
‘All Too Late’
‘Master Of None’
‘Come To Life’
‘Let It Slide’
After a 22 minute break, we were back in the distinctive concert room for tonight’s headliners Moa Moa, which is stylized as moa moa. We witnessed their set at last year’s ‘Mutations’ festival on 6th November here in the Green Door Store – Review HERE.
moa moa were to finish off our evening’s entertainment with a 35 minute quirky set that ran from 10:13pm to 10:48pm Sadly we would have to leave prior to the commencement of the new Love Thy Neighbour Club night at 11pm.
I hadn’t seen moa moa for a whole year and last time I concluded the review with “The crowd enjoyed their synthetic pop sounds, but to be honest I wasn’t really sure what to make of them”. Would things be clearer for me this evening, would I get where this quintet is coming from?
moa moa formed in Hertfordshire when chief songwriter James Ratcliffe first met Matt Taylor and Dan Byrne. They were all performing in different projects at various band nights, the threads started joining in a scene that brought them together. Whilst at university, James befriended Connor Foweraker and, after graduating the four of them simultaneously found themselves drawn to the capital and ended up moving in together. Initially just a convenient living arrangement, as their respective bands and projects fizzled out, the foursome found themselves united by the belief in James’ songwriting vision and moa moa was born.
Shortly after releasing their first couple of singles, Dan’s workmate Sophie Parkes joined the fold, providing the finishing flourishes of saxophone and backing vocals. Their debut single ‘Yellow Jacket’ dropped and was shortly followed by ‘Spinning’ and ‘Coltan Candy’ and debut EP ‘Brain Feelings’. moa moa dropped their latest single ‘Boy Girl’ on 12th October and it made its debut on BBC Radio6 the very same day when it was played by Lauren Laverne.
With all of moa moa’s music there is humour and playfulness, some of it the punters get and maybe some they don’t. But in the main they come across as an endearing outfit, if not a quirky one. It’s quite unusual to spot two left-handers on stage together, but James and Connor were flying the flag for Southpaws. Their opening number highlighted Sophie’s silky vocals, but tune two was a heavier affair with an almost 80’s synth vibe going on. James made reference to the music on loading an Xbox with that number, not sure what he meant as I don’t indulge, unlike my kids.
Track three was ‘Spinning’ and reminded me of a Sade funky style tune with Connor’s KeyLab 49 MIDI keyboard called into action. Next up was ‘Coltan Candy’ which has a retro vibe and features decent keys again, along with James on vocals that reminded me of Laish, and Sophie on saxophone for the first time. Their new ‘Boy Girl’ single was next. It was tonight receiving its premier live outing. This was followed by my fave track by them, that being, ‘Information’ which appears on the August released 5-track ‘Brain Feelings’ EP. ‘Information’ has a chugging Giorgio Moroder style backbeat leading the song, and I would have thought this as a better choice for the single. They concluded with ‘Yellow Jacket’ which highlighted Sophie’s saxophone skills.
James Ratcliffe – vocals, left-handed Fender guitar
Sophie Parkes – vocals, saxophone, tambourine
Connor Foweraker – KeyLab 49 MIDI keyboard, laptop, left-handed Fender guitar
Dan Byrne – Fender Precision bass
Matt Taylor – drums
Moa moa setlist:
‘If I Go’
‘Take It Easy’
Read our review of Day One of the Mutations Festival HERE.
Read our review of Day Two of the Mutations Festival HERE.
Read our review of Day Three of the Mutations Festival HERE.
Read our review of the Mutations Festival ‘Closing Party’ HERE.
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