On a cold Tuesday night in October, Brudenell Social Club was once again packed to the rafters with post-punk kids and fans of noise rock, as Gilla Band (formerly Girl Band) were due to play a blistering set in the main room. Though it was not sold out entirely, from the looks of the crowd it cannot have been far off. Such a fact is not surprising when you consider that Gilla Band have been consistently pumping out some of the most exciting tunes in the post-punk and noise rock scene since their inception in 2011. Signed to Rough Trade, their latest album Most Normal (2022) has received critical – if not commercial – success.
Their set at Brudenell was prefaced by a set from Mandy, Indiana, an incredible experimental outfit from Manchester. Currently signed to Fire Talk Records and set to release a debut album in the near future, the group put on an unforgettable show worthy of a headline slot, let alone a supporting set. The raw power, intensity and volume of the group became immediately apparent when the kick-drum started up, almost imprisoning the audience in a chasm of noise. Mandy, Indiana blend elements of industrial noise, electro, post-punk and just about anything in-between to create a truly unique sound, amplified by the beautiful vocals of Valentine Caulfield, who fronts the group in her native French. The band rattled off some familiar favourites such as ‘Bottle Episode’ and ‘Alien 3’ as well as debuting some tracks from the upcoming album – if the live performance is anything to go by, then we are in for a treat! After a blistering half hour performance, the set ended with Caulfield sprawled out on the floor of Brudenell amongst some bewildered crowd members, her performance was incredibly powerful and strange – at points she seemed possessed by the spirit of the music backing her vocals. After a number of sets supporting SCALPING earlier in the year, numerous brilliant festival appearances (including Bluedot Festival, which this reporter can attest to being one of the best sets of the weekend), and a full-length album on the way, surely the next time Mandy, Indiana, head to Leeds it will be for a headline show.
There is no doubting that Mandy, Indiana, were a tough act to follow, even for a group as accomplished as Gilla Band. Truthfully, they seemed to struggle to eclipse the supporting set, at least initially, when opening the set with ‘Post Ryan’, the final track from their recent album. For a band who are so sonically aggressive, there was a disappointing lack of stage presence from much of the band. Thankfully, though, the set seemed to improve tenfold with each song. The latter half of the set was definitely superior, as their electronic influences and driving power came to the forefront. ‘Eight Fivers’ was a definite highlight of the set – the repeated lyric “I spent all my money on shit clothes” resonating well with the student population in the crowd. Although many fans were disappointed by the bands failure to include ‘Paul’ on the setlist, given that it is one of their more popular tracks, the latter half of the setlist was otherwise flawless. You needed only to gaze upon the rapturous sea of people dancing and moshing on the main floor of Brudenell to realise the power and popularity of the group. Closing the night with the fantastic track, ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage’, any doubts about the group’s ability at the start of the set were well and truly quashed. This tour surely cemented Gilla Band as one of the giants of the post-punk/noise rock scene, and hopefully they will be back at Brudenell before too long!