Manchester’s December gig schedule is as treacherous as the makeshift “ice rink” hastily assembled on Peter Street. Luckily, Getintothis’ James Sullivan is on hand to offer you a bar to cling on to.
Live music and Christmas have always had a dodgy relationship. On the one hand, Christmas is the time of year when we drink the most, have the most time off and make as much merry as a belly full of mince pies and snowballs will allow. On the other hand, a raft of tribute bands and cash-in reunions fill the venues, as a tidal wave of sherry-fuelled office parties and Christmas meet-ups need a place to celebrate.
As such, it’s a harder task than normal to find the gold among the frankincense and, god forbid, the myrrh. Fret not, festive frolickers; Getintothis will lead you through these dark winter nights.
Five great gigs to mark on your advent calendar, coming up!
1. Guantanamo Baywatch: Fallow Cafe, December 8
Portland’s Guantanamo Baywatch released their third record Darling…It’s Too Late earlier this year and pass through Manchester on their European tour. Oregon is hardly the sunshine state, but Guantanamo Bay play full Dick Dale surf guitar pop.
Ridiculous, cheesy, sugar coated, toothy sunshine pop songs which flitter between Marvin Berry and the Starlighters, The Sonics and The Surfaris’ Wipeout (but with a better/worse name than all of those bands).
For more information, click here.
2. The Bronx/Mariachi El Bronx: Ruby Lounge, December 10/11
LA punk band The Bronx take over the Ruby Lounge for two nights. The second night sees them playing songs from their four records released since 2003, whereas the first night they headline under their mariachi alter-ego Mariachi El Bronx.
The band’s standard line up is straight up LA hardcore; heavier than X, more anthemic than Black Flag. After major label releases and Warped tours, their star seems to have faded slightly, despite 2013’s excellent album The Bronx. In some ways they’ve been slightly overshadowed by the apparent novelty of releasing three mariachi albums as El Bronx, if only that incarnation wasn’t done so adeptly and successfully.
Former Gallows frontman Frank Carter supports The Bronx with his band the Rattlesnakes, while Craig Finn from The Hold Steady is on the lineup with El Bronx.
You can find out more here.
3. Son Little: Night and Day Cafe, December 13
Blues, soul and rhythm and blues comes to Manchester from Son Little, who released his debut album Anti- in October. Real name Aaron Livingston, the Philadelphia-born singer worked with the Roots and RJD2 before coming to prominence under his own name.
His music treads the line between contemporary soul and Chess Records artists like Muddy Waters while his gospel-soaked voice is a thing of wonder.
To find out more, click here.
4. John Bramwell: The Deaf Institute, December 13 and 14
Two nights of proper Manc royalty, as I Am Kloot’s John Bramwell takes to the stage to play songs from his extensive back catalogue and regale the crowd with more warmth than a festive glühwein.
Bramwell’s songs are as beautifully observed as Paul Heaton, as weathered as Richard Hawley, and crooned as raspily as John Lennon. An hero unsung in much of the country, but shouted to the rafters in Manchester, these two nights are a true Christmas treat.
Click here for more information.
5. Horsebeach: Band on the Wall, December 17
Something of a quiet revolution among Manchester’s sea of psych and fuzz bands, the crisp, clean, dreamy pop of Horsebeach has built up a real head of steam since the release of their self-titled debut last year.
Second record II has made it to number two on Piccadilly Records’ Top 100 Albums of the Year, so this hometown headline gig will be a celebration of another set of new year’s resolutions come good.
For more info, click here.