Tim Presley successfully navigated a Manchester maze to take to the stage of the Kraak Gallery and Getintothis’ Chris Hughes followed in tow.
When it was announced that White Fence would be playing the tiny confines of Kraak Gallery, we were more than just a little excited. Imagine how thrilled we were to then learn that support would come in the form of Ultimate Painting.
The hype surrounding White Fence AKA Tim Presley has been rising for the last half a decade, following some sun-drenched lo-fi gems and the brilliant collaboration with Ty Segall, Hair. With his mid-2014 release For The Recently Found Innocent, the hype was more than justified. This, combined with the jingle-jangle pop melodies of Ultimate Painting? Our ears were in for a treat.
For the uninitiated, finding Kraak Gallery may prove difficult, hidden as it is in the labyrinth of alleyways and side roads of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. In the blustering gales and icy rain, we had some trouble ourselves – but the queue outside told us we’ve made it. The chalk-on-brick letters of the venues name are also something of a dead giveaway.
Inside, the intimate space is packed out – a testament to the popularity of support act Ultimate Painting. Comprising of Maze’s Jack Cooper and James Hoare of Veronica Falls, their self-titled debut LP drew praise from both sides of the pond. As they jump into their melody and guitar driven set, it’s impossible not to bob your head and tap your foot – as the whole crowd does.
The duo, backed by a full rhythm section, weave some great guitar hooks in with shared vocal melodies. It’s simple but effective. Having been friends since their respective bands’ touring days, the chemistry between the two is manifest. But those who were fooled into thinking this would your standard sing-along set were surprised with some screeching solos that give the set some bite. This is well written, and deftly executed psych-pop that flutters between The Byrds and Velvet Underground. The result is captivating and we’re excited by the first offerings of what could be a beautiful relationship.
An act could be forgiven for not being entirely at the top of their game from the off if they’d just had to leg it from a live BBC 6 session at Media City – but not White Fence. In fact, that set seems to have Presley fired up and raring to go as he kicks off with a fuzzed-up version of Chairs In The Dark from the album Cyclops Reap. It’s a sign of things to come, their usually serene and sedate 60’s tones given a live makeover that makes for a hard-hitting garage barrage.
But don’t get us wrong, their songs lose none of the acid-soaked bliss that has become synonymous with the band. One crowd favourite comes with Like That, a sedate slice of pop-psych that is intensely reminiscent of The Who and Kinks. It’s the sort of song that is so simplistically understated it makes you wonder what the big secret is, and why you can’t write glittering gems like this every time you pick up your guitar.
Now, we knew we were in for something special tonight, but even we couldn’t have predicted that the likes of Cate Le Bon would join the set on backing guitar. That the Welsh singer-songwriter has been in support of the band for the duration of their previous tour dates is a well-kept secret that gives the audience a real buzz, and she gets a fervent reception as she takes to the stage.
As the night reaches its climax, the garage juggernaut shows no signs of slowing, the fast-paced and frenetic fuzz of Paranoid Bait getting the whole crowd up and down. Wails of guitar and the crashing bellow of drums fill the space, trippy echoes of reverb bouncing between the walls.
When it’s finally all over, the smiles on the faces of the band and audience alike tell the story of the night. It’s been an education in the art of modern garage psych from two of its very finest patrons. Call us biased, but the whole thing feels like a kind of homecoming for the two bands, given the strong affinity to far-reaching psychedelia that Manchester and Liverpool share. Tim Presley would probably be right at home in either city. We had high hopes and were not disappointed – the feeling that tonight was going to be one to remember buzzing in our heads way longer than the last-train journey home.
Photo’s by Rachel Lipsitz