Hora Douse / Mannequin Death Squad / Hinges / Sarah Carey – Santiago, Leeds, 20th September 2016

Posted: 22 September 2016 in Live

Christopher Nosnibor

The Grand Arcade is an unusual corner of Leeds: very much resembling a shopping mall, it’s home to a host of quirky independent eateries and the like, including Santiago, a slightly divey bar which does a great line in craft ales by the can and has a venue space about the size of the living room of a modern flat upstairs.

It’s a predominantly young and self-consciously cool crowd packing it out upstairs tonight, but they’re enthusiastic and respectful, which is exactly the audience Sarah Carey’s highly personal acoustic performance deserves. With some vaguely grunge-inspired chord sequences, she sings of break-ups and loneliness, frustration and self-loathing. She does so with a certain charm, and isn’t po-faced in her delivery. Her inclusion on the bill is a good move on the part of the promoters, too, as she offers a quiet and comparatively gentle start to a night that’s going to become noisier with each successive act thereafter.

“We’re ‘inges,” says the slightly chubby youth brandishing a guitar which he’s about to thrash the fuck out of. Despite the drummer’s dubious-looking hipster moustache, the northern foursome don’t piss about with posturing, and bust a gut to pound out their gnarly, grungy racket. They play hard and play angry: ‘Grey’ isn’t a Fudge Tunnel cover, but it is sludgy, bile-filled and bursting with rage. It’s getting warm in the little gig space, and more beer is required.



Before the show, I’d scored an interview with Mannequin Death Squad. During our exchange, they’d explained that the live and studio mediums were very different for them, in that in the studio they’re able to build up the layers of sound and instrumentation with bass and additional guitars, whereas live they’re very much limited by numbering only two, meaning that the songs are stripped back and direct. And it works well: they crank it up and play loud and hard. You’d never guess that Dan is, in relative terms, a novice drummer, or even that they’re essentially a ‘new’ band: they’re as tight as hell and exude a rare confidence, and it’s obvious as they power through an explosive set that they’ve put in some long, hard hours of rehearsal and packed a lot of gigs into their short career. Around halfway through the set, they switch instruments, with El taking the drum stool and Dan the guitar (they share vocal duties throughout) and tear through much of their soon-to-be released mini-album Eat Hate Regurgitate and cuts from the album that’s set to appear before the year’s out (you heard it here first). If you’re on the market for some blistering grunge / punk / noisy pop, Mannequin Death Squad is the band you want, and after supporting Slaves on this, their first UK tour, there’s no question that they’re destined for a larger audience.


Mannequin Death Squad

The last time I saw Hora Douse was back in the summer of 2014, in York, supporting Post War Glamour Girls. It was a little way ahead of the release of their Crash EP, and they confessed to being a shade underrehearsed after some time out, and they were still cracking. On tonight’s outing, they’re on incendiary form. The limited notes I took during their set are practically illegible, and I’m blaming the cans of wicked craft beer for that – in particular the Magic Rock IPA at 7.4% – and the fact I was too immersed in their full-throttle angular grunge racket to write much. They’re intense, alright, and loud. And their drummer’s incedible. They work up a sweat and work up the audience, too: there’s little respite during their course of their pummelling set, and I’m reminded once more why it’s the little gigs like this, the shows that are intimate, up close and personal, that bring the greatest sense of joy and excitement.


Hora Douse

These are bands that actually give a shit, that play like their lives depend on it despite being lucky if they break even, playing to maybe thirty or forty people – who also give a shit – on a Tuesday night, and play every show like they’re headlining Glastonbury. There is simply nothing which matches the intensity and the euphoria of being packed into a small enclosed space with people perspiring with passion and kicking out a cathartic racket. THIS is what it’s all about.

  1. […] Cohn and Elena Velinsky – who surely have one of the best band names around – just before their gig at Santiago in Leeds, as main support to Hora Douse, I was immediately struck not only by how down to earth and […]

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