A few weeks ago, two-dozen people sat around in the Bunker to listen to the new Ghost Outfit album. It was cold, really cold. Without venturing too far into the poetically crap, it was visible-breath cold. The beverage of choice was wine, from the bottle. It wasn’t cosy.
The whole evening had the potential to raise a few questions with regards to record listening etiquette; where do you look? Are you allowed to chat? Pass notes? Live tweet? No such qualms arose.
That entire anecdote is superfluous, though. The only purpose it serves is to reassure you, the discerning reader, that you have not been deserted by Ghost Outfit. If anything, Ghost Outfit have been saving you, you just haven’t heard it yet. Come away from the ledge, the album will be here soon.
But in the flesh*, that’s altogether different. The Roadhouse, Manchester’s most prestigious basement sweat-box has a polar opposite weather system to Salford’s most prestigious disused factory’s polar climate. It may as well be in a different time zone. The Roadhouse is airless, graceless and in a pre-emptive state of mourning.
The deceased-in-waiting is Underachievers Please Try Harder, a club night held in the hearts of all who frequented it with a particular type of fond, drunken reverence. An “I bloody love you” sort of respect. This is the last one ever, and they’ve chosen Ghost Outfit to play the wake. All the stars have aligned for An Emotional One.
The affection for this esteemed institution is so palpable, I feel awful for having nothing much to contribute to the collective reminiscence. This is, embarrassingly, the first Underachievers I’ve wholly attended, but ‘tis better to have loved – briefly – and lost, than to never have loved at all. This is an epigram also applicable to Ghost Outfit’s durationally minimal set. Lengthy, it was not. However, what it was lacking in X it more than made up for in its abundance of Y, (and other similarly lazy journalistic fillers).
The inexplicable ‘Y’ was heavily present in ‘W A S T E; a song corroded by sandpaper riffs, but with a certain regard for the merit of melodies, and choruses and lyrics, which is nice. Arbitrary fuzz is all well and good, but sometimes it’s okay to write deceptive pop songs and play them on a Friday night whilst drunken people dance and climb on the furniture. Sometimes that’s more than okay. A similar sentiment is shared in ‘I Was Good When I Was Young’, a subterranean floor-filler if ever there was one. It’s cognitively dissonant joy, in glorious, gristly detail.
Like the rest of their SWAYS Records brethren, and – for one night only – Team Underachievers, Ghost Outfit seem to take a particularly sadistic pleasure in the decay of all things. That hobby is something of an umbrella term, equally applicable to the expiration of Old Manchester music as it is to the milk in the fridge, I presume. If any more proof is needed, their debut album is going by the name of ‘I WNT U 2 DSTRY ME’. They are not exempt from directing the death-worship in their own direction.
Characteristically then, they closed the set with ‘Kids’, perhaps in order to allude to new beginnings and irresponsibility. More likely though, they ended with it because if ever a song existed to take that place, it is ‘Kids’. It is the manifestation of a thesis on how to write a set-closer of a song.
Ghost Outfit bid a willfully destructive farewell to an institution responsible for a lot of other people’s best nights ever. Those other people are probably more qualified to write a glowing post-mortem of such a thing, but if we worried about qualifications and the like, no one would ever start bands or club nights, and then what would we do?
“Tis safer to be that which we destroy, than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy”.
*There was flesh.
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