@ Omeara, London
Words & Pics by Captain Stavros
We’re at Omeara for the first time and having just ordered a White Claw, served at room temperature for £7 quid, it left us wondering who even the fuck we are anymore? To those bothering to look, probably an unrecognizable protoplasm cutting a dark, slim and brooding figure; Balzac deep in A Harlot High and Low. Awaiting, excruciatingly we might add, through two of perhaps the worst opening acts in recent memory in a venue that reeked of fried eggs, the whole night through we leaned heavily against the wall. Each act’s sound was worse than the last. It left us thinking was Omeara’s sound-tech legally deaf, or were the bands just tone deaf? Maybe both? What in Christ would Ist Ist sound like? We sincerely did not feel like sticking it out long enough to find out. Surrounded by too-drunk, past-their-prime seniors pretending to be middle-aged men, wearing the band tees of the band they were here to see.
Just then we were reminded of a friend that not so long ago told me she swore by David Goggins’ philosophy, which had weaseled their way into our psyche with his ‘what if’ mentality. What if we could make it through these two abysmal opening acts, defying all the odds, would it be worth it? Hope is the last to die, so they say, and probably us along with it. Inevitably, we held up our end of the deal and saw our commitments through to the bitter end, as always. For one brief shining moment the sun shone upon us for it too. In reality, it was the intelligent light system searing through our retinas. Even so, with intensely directed light piercing through and sizzling our optic nerves, we managed to hold steady and witness a set worthy of hope.
Through what must’ve been arguably the greatest amount of fog used since the filming of The Mist appear Manchester’s favourite sons, Ist Ist, with just a splash of bravado. The previous stage setups, clumsy and cluttered, strewn with keyboard alleys and telephone wired extension leads crawling across the floor, were now replaced. In their stead, a cleared centre stage framed a relaxed setup in the same vein a smile would on Willem Defoe's face. Mat’s, donning an epic Slow Drive tour tee by the way, pull up to a double stacked keyboard rig which looms phantom-esque stage right. Adam’s guitar and Andy’s bass taking up center-left. As usual, the drummer Joel, is left floating in the background like a ghoulish apparition with only his face and arms swinging around wildly throughout the set.
The 18-song set that ensues kicks off with ‘Stamp You Out’s gnarly down picking bass and Adam’s Paul Banks-esque vocals helped remedy a sore start with a set that would surely soar. What they lack throughout the evening in a showy stage presence throughout their set, they more than make up for in the volume of quality songs played, sheer talent, and of course a fuckload of fog. It was an incredible relief to realise it wasn’t in fact the venue’s sound, or the tech’s fault either, for the previous poor soundscapes. Every instrument came through in crystal studio quality surround sound. Neither vocals, percussion, keys or bass, which slapped as prominently as it did awesomely, interfered with one another. The set design feels like an orchestra shoehorned into, well, a shoebox. Real dark matter vibes, bruh. It is, and will remain, exceptionally impressive.
Ist Ist effortlessly cruised through a set filtering through their back catalogue as much as promoting their latest, Protagonist, released just last month on Violence Records, without so much as breaking a sweat. Their sound lays somewhere between metal and grunge, Soundgarden chic? Even as an interloper at a gig surrounded by die-hard fans, it wasn’t difficult to fall in step whilst enjoying ourselves, guilt free, in the sullen inclusivity that still managed to bring about an uplifting experience. You don’t want to be left without a chair when the music stops.
Ist Ist are touring now.