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Designer Magazine Presents Baker Maker
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GROUNDS / Fidel and the Castros / Bright Young Things / Colombia / Conquer Rio / Keith

Designer Magazine’s Baker Maker this month features a bumper six-band bill, and the quality of the music (and free cakes) on offer is reflected in the size of the crowd which packs out the Roadhouse from start to finish.

Keith set the night going with their mix of indie grooves and atmospheric slow-burners. An extensive opening number swells to a rousing finish and the band carries that momentum through the rest of the set. It’s compelling stuff, setting the mood for the night perfectly.

Warrington’s Conquer Rio follow, introducing us to their line in pop-rock and treating the crowd to an impressive five-part-harmony array. The songs are heartfelt and the music is lively, interspersed as it is with frenetic tap-guitar and all manner of keyboard effects. The band’s stage presence is not lost on the audience either, with drums propelling the front four through their harmonies and beyond. A truly enjoyable set from a confident and capable band.

Alternative three-piece Colombia are next to take to the stage and they make a noise that greatly exceeds the sum of their parts. There is a humming rhythm that underscores their sound, through the powerful drum beats, the cool, languid, yet insistent guitar riffs and even the harmonica solo late in the set. Apart from an early costume change (a leather jacket under the hot stage-lights of the Roadhouse? Admirable but, ultimately, futile), the band prove to be polished entertainers and keep an intrigued crowd in excellent humour.

Bright Young Things are the fourth act of the evening and overcome an early guitar-tuning problem to deliver some epic, up-tempo indie rock’n’roll. Founded only in February this year, the mix of influences as disparate as Bombay Bicycle Club and Bloc Party is already thickening nicely. The Salford four-piece show here that they are already well into their stride, and the slick performance promises much for the future.

The many people that have stuck around are joined by a new swell in time to see Cheadle Hulme’s own Fidel and the Castros announce their arrival. Citing the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Kings of Leon as their forerunners, the band weave through the breadth of the rock genre; within the accessible indie sounds there are elements of funk and blues, occasionally a punk edge. The set contains everything from rapid riffs to more mellow, ponderous segments. The way Fidel and the Castros tie all this together and deliver it in such a focused half-hour set is probably the most impressive aspect of the performance, and the air of unpredictability only fuels the crowd’s intrigue.

It is GROUNDS who are tasked with wrapping up proceedings, and they do so with aplomb. There is a touch of The Stone Roses about the band, not just in their cool swagger but in some of the sounds emanating from the rhythm section. Elsewhere this is complemented by clearly-defined mid-tempo riffs, delivered with serious punch. It’s high-pressure indie-rock, and it’s just what the crowd needs to keep them going to the finish. With plenty of good-natured heckling, the night ends on a great vibe.

Sean Gibson

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