(Pic: Hora Douse and ZSilent Z in surprise collaboration)

Designer Magazine Xmas Party
– Dry Bar Live - 21.12.10

 When it seemed the rest of the world seemed to have given up on Christmas and gone into hibernation until the snow clears, Designer Magazine and six unsigned bands braved the conditions to celebrate Christmas in Dry Bar in The Northern Quarter. The night provided a refreshing change from all too common identikit indie band line ups, showcasing influences from blues to punk to folk.

Due to aforementioned ‘conditions’, I unfortunately missed the first band; Illusion. However, from what I can gather, they received a large turn out, spread some Christmas cheer, however cynical, with a cover The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York and left the impression that the four youngsters might be destined for big things.

Next up were prog rock trio Moving Traffic, who played songs with infectiously acoustic melodies and keys riffs, beautiful lyrics about hearbreak, that built up into screeching, reverberating finales topped off with a de-wielding of guitars, for dramatic effect, as if any more were needed.zapzapzap! took to the stage, with arguably the most dedicated crowd of the night. Their set featured the first of two renditions of The Buzzcocks' Ever Fallen In Love, with added synth. They've been compared to Foals, but more like if Foals had formed in a Northern working-class town in the 70's, and had posters of late 90's New York post-punk revival band on their walls. A brilliant live performance of intense and exciting electro music and lyrics you can't help but get caught up in. Expect big things.

ZSilent Z say we’ll have a hard time pinning them down, which could be something to do with the fact that the band members are currently studying in different countries, but more likely it’s due to their smorgasbord of influences, take the ska infused heavy metal cover of The Buzzcocks’ Ever Fallen in Love (it must be a Z thing) for some serious genre-spanning, or the juxtaposition of Rage Against The Machine inspired hard rock with slow-burning Nirvana-esque moments. A truly exiting new band that delivered a rollercoaster live set.

Next, Mancunian duo Gypsy Lips took to the stage, a band making it their mission to fiercely rebel against any Manchester music scene stigma there might be floating around, with underground blues, punk and garage influences. The result? An all out attack of shrieking vocals, harsh riffs and a captivating stage presence that provoked a great reception from the crowd.

Hora Douse's headline set rounded off the festivities with stagediving, mosh pits, crowd surfing and even a spontaneous collabroration with ZSilent Z. With traces of post-hardcore and 90's American pop-punk (think Biffy meets Blink), Hora Douse's live performance was energetic and edgey; the macarena, of course, being the epitome of this.

What better Christmas present (and other tedious seasonal metaphors) than a great night of music in a great venue, and some names to watch in 2011?

Lucy Holt


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