Hot Wax live in Manchester review: cacophonous trio awaken the Deaf Institute

hotwax live in manchester review

A night of noise and in-your-face riffs; exactly the gut punch required on a drizzly Manchester midweek.

Fresh from an opening spot at All Points East and warming up for a mammoth UK and US run with Royal Blood, HotWax roll into Manchester as the headliners for Dork Magazine’s Night Out, alongside The Rills and Bandit.

Bandit open proceedings, bounding onto the tiny, red curtain-draped stage with the energy of a band striding onto the Pyramid Stage. Their juicy, post-punky riff-rock goes down a treat, and the growing crowd eat up every note of the Scouse four-piece. The Rills are up next, and the TikTok sensations have recently signed with hit machine record label Nice Swan.

Nice Swan has a real knack for spotting talent, and since their viral beginnings, The Rills have come on leaps and bounds. They look every bit a ‘proper’ band now, and they have the tunes to back it up: big, bouncing indie cuts are gleefully welcomed by the Deaf Institute crowd. Huge rhythm sections and massive sing-along hooks make the band a real joy to witness live.

Before long, the Deaf Institute buzzes with anticipation for the headline act. The upstairs room is packing out, with both the floor space and seated area teeming with punters and pints in preparation for HotWax.

The band’s debut EP brought them a strong level of critical praise, as well as a cult following and some airtime on BBC 6 Music. HotWax are a three-piece; with the bass and guitar duo of Lola Sam and Tallulah Sim-Savage respectively acting as double frontwomen. Alfie Sayers completes the trio from behind the kit, and they launch into early single ‘Barbie (Not Yours)’ and from the outset, HotWax makes it clear that they aren’t fucking around.

Massive riffs strummed between duelling guitar and bass are cacophonous in the Deaf Institute, and the sludgy, grooving basslines matched with fuzzy, feedback-laden guitar evokes Nirvana, Hole and American grunge.

Throughout the cuts, Sam and Sim-Savage mirror one other’s movements up and down their fretboards, with the bassist routinely switching from playing with a pick, to finger-picking. Lola Sam’s bright orange hair shines bright under the lights, and she hammers her deep red Fender bass with one foot on the monitor and a pick between her teeth. Sam storms around the stage, taking moments to whisper in her compatriot’s ear, or lean into the crowd with the neck of her guitar overhanging the lip of the stage.

At points Sam and Sim-Savage share a mic; bellowing their vocals in each other’s faces like a grungy Pete and Carl. The band have an electric stage presence, and the chemistry between the three is palpable, making it near-impossible to tear yourself away from the spectacle.

Tallulah Sim-Savage wears her Fender Jag low-slung, and the jet black body contrasts with the silver pickups and scratchguard, which sparkle in the red and purple lights of the venue – she plays with purpose and different cuts with high-pitched guitar solos are torn straight from the Tom Morello playbook, which complements the band’s sound fantastically.

Sayers behind the kit is a revelation, and his playing drives the tracks onwards, keeping the duelling frontwomen in time. He pulls the whole thing together, and as a three-piece they’re formidable.

New cut ‘Phone Machine‘ is a real highlight, and is getting the single-release treatment in a matter of days. There is also a fantastic moment mid-set where a song includes a moment of silence, which was punctuated only by a deep Mancunian accent offering “not bad for a Southerner”. He’s right too, and the Hastings band tore the roof off the old building with set closer ‘Rip it Out’.

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