Manchetsr Academy 3 – Sun 2nd Dec 2007
Sunday night, anyway, sees four of the regular fixtures of the year all on one rather excellent bill courtesy of Stuart “S.A. Promotions” Avery. “You reviewing tonight?” shouts Liam “Tides” Pennington at me on the stairs. The short answer? No. The long answer – not officially; I don’t think I can. This’ll be my sixth live encounter of 2007 with Juno Ashes and The Vanguard and my fourth with The Tides and Optional Wallace; I’ve written about them all a couple of times on ManchesterMusic, and I know pretty much all of them to some extent. I have paid my five pounds and I am having a night off…
It’s the biggest Manchester gig and biggest stage yet for The Vanguard, their first time through massive speakers; Optional Wallace have a couple of big support slots already under their belts but it’s the first time I’ve seen them somewhere with a proper PA; and both sound absolutely fantastic. Both deal in the type of powerful, emotionally charged, brickwork-rattling North West post-punk-indie-rock which needs power and volume and depth to be properly appreciated. The Vanguard are on first, but there’s an impressive number of people made the effort to get down for half seven and it’s fair to say those who’ve come for the other bands are pretty impressed. And with good reason; these are songs of bitter beauty which stay well clear of lyrical cliches whilst the guitars entwine and spiral over deep stormcloud bass and drums, stirring something deep in the heart of this old Chameleons fan and a few others too. It’s a shame they lose five minutes to an emergency guitar re-stringing, but to their credit that nobody seems to fuck off to the bar.
There are Chameleons echoes in Optional Wallace too; the three-piece are rooted in the faster, earlier end of the great band’s legacy, tight as anything tonight, but like The Vanguard there’s a present-day feel to their songs that puts them above those whose only interest is to resurrect sounds past.
by Cath Aubergine (manchestermusic.co.uk)
Optional Wallace @ Starkie’s Bar
Rob Allen for Manchester Online – 30/10/2007 – Starkie’s Bar, Gigg Lane, Bury
Saturday 27 October
It’s a stadium show, but not as we know it. In a far corner of the ground at Bury’s Football Club’s Gigg Lane stadium there is a new gig opportunity for Manchester’s bands, to entertain the pre-match hordes attending FC United’s home games.
Prior to a the visit by a team from Osset it was the turn of the oddly monikered Optional Wallace.
One of the most active bands on the unsigned scene, setting up their own live nights in various pubs, their early career has been met with politeness rather than the enthusiasm they may have expected but after the best part of a year under cover, writing, rehearsing and recording they have returned as a new band.
The response to this show is best measured by the fact that the announcement that a clutch of CDs were waiting on a nearby windowsill for collection was met by people suddenly dashing from their seats to grab a copy. So assured was their performance that a shaky PA system sounded like it was custom built for the job.
The lead track on their recent demo, Moving Targets, has found itself snaking into the consciousness of local radio DJs and journalists and it was no less powerful on this occasion. Vocally capable and definitely able to wield their fuzzed up guitars without any more coaching there are shades of Placebo’s complex darkness spliced with the savvy, bass-led melodies of New Order.
It was either this potent mix or the heavy tater hash on offer from the bar that kept a pre-match football crowd glued to the spot and transfixed for every second they were on stage. For the sake of commending a great gig during daylight hours we’ll save our compliments for the chef and heap praise on Optional Wallace.
:: George Borowski :: Optional Wallace :: The Witches ::
21 October 2007 / The Garratt / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine
Fellow BUSK regulars OPTIONAL WALLACE are on next (the alternating stage set-up leaving little chance to catch your breath) – this is terse, powerful and ever-so-slightly doom-laden indie rock, administered with that tautness you only get in a three-piece. the Manchesters past in their sound are those of Magazine, early Chameleons, imposing waether formations over crumbling brickwork – but there’s a soaring indie-rock sensibility too in their urgent songs. And, of course, they’ve got an utterly fantastic name.