Speedy Ortiz / Joanna Gruesome - Deaf Institute, Manchester, 16 Feb 2014

Speedy Ortiz / Joanna Gruesome – Deaf Institute, Manchester, 16 Feb 2014

OMG, FML, LFMF (etc. etc.) ..in all fairness I’d heard good, nay, great things about Joanna Gruesome, but somehow managed to swerve them. I think I was put off by their ‘silly’ name, which is no sort of excuse whatsoever. Never judge a book by it’s alt-folk-princess-referencing cover. This band are amazing! Live anyway – I still haven’t listened to the record I bought at last night’s gig.

Let’s qualify amazing. A noise-punk sound blast, very clearly and visibly on the sharpest possible upwards trajectory. At the height of their game and yet I am sure that game gets higher every night. Loose and tight at the same time, making mistakes and laughing like they don’t care, cause you know, it’s music. Egged on by headliners Speedy Ortiz to play songs on stage in Manchester that they’ve never played before outside the rehearsal room. Charm and attitude in equal proportions, they finish the set with guitar player in the crowd and singer jumping off stage to make a smart exit to the roof terrace.

By the laws of contrariness, whereas I’d ignored fellow Welshies (Gruesome are from Cardiff), I’ve been all over Speedy Ortiz, (who hail from small-town Massachusetts) for months, courtesy of casual friends in Brooklyn brah.

I was smitten straight away, via their 2013 album Major Arcana, with what I can only describe as their dischord-pop. Just when you think you’ve got the handle on the sort of college experimentalism that members of Pixies would have grooved to if they’d been the right age,sound architect Sadie Dupuis builds another unlikely tower of jaggy vocals on top of the three already stacked up, and the whole lot comes tumbling gloriously down into the squall of the band’s mathy instrumentation.

While I might have slapped myself on the back for being so on trend, so Pitchfork-perfect, it seems I was not alone as ‘the Deaf’ was packed tonight, sweating all the way up to the stage. Sadie chastised us for being too polite, not heckling like they had in Glasgow. Playing in a fog of red smoke, I thought they might have a hard job to follow the Gruesomes, but they did so with utter aplomb, bringing experimental intellectual noise to the party. The only down-point was the piteous lack of reaction of the crowd when the set was done, so that the potential of an encore ended up apathetically pissed on the floor.

Whoever put those two on tour together deserves a moment of self congratulation. Either would have been worth the journey; the end result was 200% good.


Speedy Ortiz

Sadie drawing a tortoise for me after the gig (honestly)


Joanna Gruesome

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.