Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Freedom Screech, Marblekrusher, Winter Berries, Jamboree, Retro Bar, Monday February 23

One of the most ramshackle nights in Manchester is the monthly Jamboree, which has moved from the Klondyke in Levenshulme to Retro Bar in town.

As befits a gig named after a Beat Happening song and album, the bands that play are often full of enthusiasm rather than bestowed with musical polish. The Shrieking Violets, Jam on Bread and Judy and the Blumes have all graced the stage in recent months, but February’s Jamboree was musically the most exciting so far.

Andrew, formerly of Cookie Cutter, played his debut gig as Freedom Screech, making tunnels of fuzz, clattering drums and lyrics about staying in eating minestrone soup sound like the scuzzy rock n roll rebellion of Sonic Youth.

Another band making their full debut was Marblekrusher, whose front man Tom Whyman proves it’s possible to be both ramshackle and pop, all over the place and a good performer at the same time. Whyman is a joy to behold, jumping up and down in excitement at being on stage. Marblekrusher start off slowly with keyboard chords, before Whyman bounces off into improvised drumming like a slowed down version of free jazz.

They might not conform much to music making in the traditional sense, but Marblekrusher remind us of something - music’s ability to be fun and irreverent. They start off from the same level as a child exploring melody for the first time, even covering youtube star Olivia, 3,’s sweet little ditty Two of the Beatles are Dead. They sing ‘two of the Beatles have died, two are still alive’, which is very true. However, it can’t sound very sad when they’re singing it over what sounds like a slowed down version of that other young at heart popstar Adam Green’s Bunny Ranch. Other tunes sound like music to old school computer games set in a slightly dystopian future.

Lauren’s trumpet is the magical hook holding Marblekrusher together, and makes you wonder why more bands don’t have trumpets. Marblekrusher are like a circus band, but if they were a pop group, they’d be experimental early Mercury Rev or the party pop of Architecture in Helsinki.

The band plays Whyman out, singing ‘we’ll be gone in five minutes, two mintes’, until he eventually collapses on the floor as if all that musical excitement had tired him out.

Winter Berries finish the night with short, sweet lo-fi folk songs, including the swoonsomly lovely Sundown.

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