FRESH off the release of their acclaimed sophomore studio album ‘Pool’, Porches brought their introspective tunes to The Deaf Institute on Saturday, May 22 in their first appearance in Manchester. Quays News entertainment reporter Alfie Verity went along…
The night opened with an intimate performance from Olivier Heim. Born in Luxemborg, Heim’s relaxed, surf-pop sound is reminiscent of other acts like DIIV and Eagulls. His calm demeanour radiated through the crowd as he performed songs from his 2015 album ‘A Different Life’. A notable highlight was Heim’s performance of ‘Far Apart’, with its misty guitar sound providing a radiant, placid effect.
Heim’s 30-minute set came with few hiccups, and his jokey mid-song preambles formed a friendly rapport with the crowd. Scenery and nature were consistent themes in Heim’s performance, working with his dreamy sound to create an idyllic feeling for the crowd.
Heim was followed by Frankie Cosmos, a quaint, upbeat band led-by ex-Porches bassist Greta Kline. Cosmos’ sophomore studio album ‘Next Thing’ was released earlier this year, with Kline’s delicate, quirky vocals effortlessly carrying the project’s themes of youth, introversion and romance. Cosmos’ performance maintains the immediacy of their song’s ideas, with the band’s fast-paced guitar playing replicating the album’s plucky, animated sound.
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Frankie Cosmos’ stellar moments came during a performance of ‘On the Lips’; with its dreamy guitars and hooky lyrics, “where would I kiss ya / If I could kiss ya”, making Cosmos an unsurprisingly endearing stage presence, and ‘If I Had a Dog’, in which Kline invited members of Porches onstage to do a tongue-in-cheek dance routine along to the song. The band’s set can be embodied by the lyrics of ‘Floated In’, “I floated in and started living” – their smooth, light sound floats through the room and creates a relationship between Kline and the crowd, awakening the introvert in each audience member.
Frankie Cosmos’ synth-heavy performance of set closer ‘Young’ led perfectly into headliner Porches, a New York-based electronic project fronted by Aaron Maine. The tour comes in support of Porches’ February release ‘Pool’. The album is a triumph, its 12 tracks weave together seamlessly and its sleepy sound creates an immersive effect that provides a hauntingly beautiful portrait of the albums core theme of separation, evidenced in ‘Be Apart’’s echoing chorus, “I, I, I, wanna be apart”.
Recorded entirely in Aaron Maine’s New York apartment, it could be concerning Pool’s lonesome, dark sound would prove difficult in a gig setting, but Porches’ onstage energy dismisses these ideas instantly. Maine’s vocal performance stays strong throughout, and the band often replace the quiet bass guitars of their studio releases for punchier, electric guitars. The band’s energy only wanes slightly on some of their slowest songs, but these minor deviations are forgivable, and often the lagging sound of some of these songs work to create the isolated, introspective effect available on ‘Pool’.
Maine’s appreciation for his fans is charming, telling them during Porches’ set of the emotion he felt watching the crowd during Cosmos’ performance and asking the venue to add more lights so he could better view the audience. Similarly to the acts prior, Porches’ relationship with the crowd proved key to the band, at one point engaging in a discussion with an audience member about ping pong. The comic, light-hearted discussion displayed the aims of Porches’ set, to translate the solitary calmness of ‘Pool’ into a fun, danceable gig.
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The band members have a clear affinity for each other, often casually dancing together onstage to create the show’s necessary energy. Bassist Maya Laner harmonises with Maine, creating a warm sound on, ironically, some of the lonelier songs on Porches’ set list, particularly ‘Be Apart’. Despite Maine’s position as a frontman, each member of the band is equally essential to form Porches’ on stage presence, the band compliment each other perfectly to form a cohesive unit.
Porches’ best performances came from Maine’s moments of vulnerability, separating himself from his guitar and synthesizers, Maine knelt down in the middle of the stage to perform at times, with this driving the emotion and pain behind some of Porches’ coldest lyrics “I’m only real / In my longing / and I long to be / so real” from ‘Shape’. In these instances, the loneliness Maine sings of was visible, and the words he sung became far more impactful. The setting of The Deaf Institute only amplified this, with its small space proving perfect for the intimacy of Porches’ sound and lyrics.
The smooth synth-pop sound and quirky onstage behaviours of the band seem futuristic in a way, but with Porches’ ability to marry the moodiness of ‘Pool’ and their earlier tracks with the spirit required for a live performance, its evident Porches are of the future – a band on the rise showing no signs of stopping. This showcase of the band’s enigmatic sound proves Maine has found his niche writing songs for nights alone, and translating them for intimate-yet-animated gigs.
By Alfie Verity