You all know them. If you’ve not seen their name scrawled on bar bathroom doors in what appears to be Rimmel Kate Moss lipstick (Shade 107) then you’ve definitely heard talks of a riotous rite of Manchester passage following the rhetoric of jumping the Met and proudly pissing off Metties. It’s the Red Stains; and try as you might, not even the most industrial-grade Cilit Bang can wash ’em out. Trust me. I’ve tried. They’re still on my Levi’s nearly a month on.
I attended their Peer Hat outing with the intention of seeing the headliner, The Accident Group – for me, the Red Stains were an added brilliant bonus. A band I’d heard of (how could one not have?), a band I respected (particularly visually, with each member having a completely different, completely cool look like punk Bratz dolls). But a band I didn’t really know much of, release-wise. I’d heard ‘Mannequin’ and liked it. I’d heard ‘Freezer Jesus’ and loved it. I also believe everybody ever, myself included, would like to be the indisputably iconic frontwoman Natalie Emslie who has the spirit of Poly Styrene but the aesthetic of a tattooed Malibu Barbie. But in honesty, I wouldn’t say prior to this evening I was a fan as such; I didn’t know enough of their music to assert that just yet. But make no mistake, their Peer Hat joint solidified me as a bonafide superfan. From start to finish they had the crowd in their crystal-covered claws. I felt completely captivated. Put it this way, I went down there to review the ace Accident Group, and I came out of there with two blinding bands to review – so good that the Stains deserved their own post.
First and foremost, I cannot tell you how much I believe the band thrive in a live environment. They sound like a completely different band. It’s not even hyperbolic of me; it’s a sight and sound to behold. They’re charismatic, humorous, exceptionally endearing. Their sensational segues into songs and Scottish-Mancunian hybrid of anecdotes had the audience giggling, particularly with the regularity of Dragon Soop sipping. They have more personality in a short support set than admittedly I’ve seen in massive charting bands of the same genre. Their DIY vibe is what draws you to them and their infectious energy is what keeps you transfixed.
In terms of their technicality, the Red Stains have improved leaps and bounds and only continue to get better and better. They are at a ridiculously polished level for a (to my knowledge) unsigned band. I think the addition of keyboard superstar Francesca has given the group not only a professional sound, but their keys are more subtle and it works in perfect harmony with Ben Dutton’s blinding drumming. I really was impressed with Sterling Kelly, whose bass was for me the real highlight of most tracks; a Hooky meets Gail Ann Dorsey dichotomy positively drenched with dramatic flair. I was so spellbound by this group. I can’t express how much.
The band are going from strength to strength – I took my sweet time whacking this review up, but in actuality it was only around 3 weeks. In that time, they’ve supported the mighty Wendy James of Transvision Vamp at The Deaf Institute and even played a headline gig at Night & Day Cafe for their single launch of ‘Smile!’. It’s a great amount of graft that undoubtedly will pay off, and they’re a band that I feel completely deserve the many successes they will achieve in the years to come. They work bloody hard, and I admire and envy it – because they do it all whilst looking sh*t-hot and playing sh*t-hot. Bin your detergent, beloveds. These stains are here to stay.