Hockey - Academy 2, Manchester

When you think of music from the Pacific Northwest, what comes to mind? Flannel-wearing grungers Dandy Warhols? Eclectic indie-kooks The Decemberists? Ethereal folksters Fleet Foxes? Music by and for hackey-sack playing beardy dudes? Certainly not hip New York style funk-style dance music. Well, meet Portland Oregon band Hockey, the anomaly of the North West, bringing their own brand of Studio 54 indie-boogie to the rain-washed streets of another north-western city.

The boys put on a pretty much note perfect show in the intimate setting of Manchester’s Academy 2, their delightful blend of dance music and indie–pop (think Friendly Fires meets Golden Silvers) winning over a crowd just starting to gear up for the weekend. The four-piece band, aided by a touring keyboardist, had the crowd super-glad they'd remembered to put on their dancing shoes, with the momentum rarely dropping from the get-go.

They bring with them an impressive collection of songs that take on an almost hallucinogenic quality - thanks in large part to the band’s excellent musicianship and Benjamin Grubin’s glorious vocals. Opening with the smooth ‘Work’ before launching into ‘Learn To Lose’, first single from their debut album Mind Chaos, by the time the funky ‘Wanna Be Black’ and ‘3AM Spanish’ come round the sweat is starting to run down the walls. Interspersed with new tracks ‘Rebels Marry Young’ and ‘DJ’, the excellent ‘Curse This City’ and ‘Song Way’ fire up the crowd again, indie-heart-throb Grubin working the crowd of adoring girls like a pro. ‘Preacher’ and another new song ‘Everyone’s The Same Age’ round the set off with the band finishing with the big crowd pleaser ‘Too Fake’.

Portland has always been a petri dish for exciiting and innovative (if slightly left of centre) music, but with Hockey the City of Roses has given us a band who switch musical borders and genres as easily as crossing the street. Is it any wonder that Manchester has taken so warmly to this city's exports?

As the band take their leave Grubin tells the cheering crowd that it may be a while til their return. “Don’t forget us!” he pleads. After this first-rate performance it’s not likely that will happen any time soon.

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