Within the last few years, Mandy, Indiana have become not just one of the country’s finest industrial noise acts, but one of it’s finest acts full stop.
If anyone had suggested that a band with this level of intensity and abrasion would have captured hearts outside of the most staunch fans of the genre a few years back, folk would have scoffed.
It’s testament to how much the Manchester-based group have perfected their craft when it comes to capturing a relatable sense of rage but also a sensibility for lacing this fury with danceable techno-inspired beats.
While they aren’t alone in terms of peers, sharing common ground with the likes of Gilla Band and Model/Actriz, their debut record i’ve seen a way has certainly struck a chord with many, and their live performances don’t just simply live up to the power of the album, but they supersede it.
In support of the record’s release earlier this year, they descended upon the darkness of Bristol venue Dareshack to wreak havoc, along with support from fellow Mancunians Slap Rash.
The pairing made complete sense, with their similar brand of noise rock not holding back as they blasted through a vicious set. The brother-sister duo of Huw and Amelia Lloyd both thrash at their bass and drums respectively, with Amelia channelling her innermost anger within the lyrics.
At times their set seemed a little too uncontrolled, with the energy and vigour sometimes having too much of a hold over songs always feeling cohesive, but there’s no mistaking that Slap Rash are capable of carving themselves a similar path to Mandy, Indiana and breaking through to the upper echelons of noise rock acts active currently.
If there were elements of a beast looking to emerge from Slap Rash, then the beast has fully consumed Mandy, Indiana and turned it into a fearsome four-headed behemoth.
Opening their set with the synth-driven introduction of ‘Love Theme (4K VHS)’, it doesn’t take long for the menace to kick in with a formidable salvo of early single ‘Nike of Samothrace’, ‘Pinking Shears’ and ‘Injury Detail’, all of which highlight the rawness of their sound and introduce the essence of each member’s contributions to the band.
The first main thing to note is the all-French lyrics of vocalist Valentine Caulfield, and while it’s safe to assume that there isn’t a whole load of Francophones in the audience, the acerbity with which she delivers her words is not lost in translation and deals numerous blows on a par with the screeching guitars of bandmate Scott Fair.
Equally as punishing are the contributions of the other members, with Alex Macdougall pounding his drumkit relentlessly while the throbbing bass synths of Simon Catling rattled through the room while he occasionally assisted with additional drums and percussion.
Caulfield however remains the main focus of the show, with her blonde wig becoming increasingly misshapen as the set progressed due to her vigorously throwing herself around the stage. The stage wasn’t her only playground however, as she frequently made bold ventures into the crowd to shriek in the faces of fans.
It became quite apparent as she escaped stage towards the end of the set only to emerge from the audience entrance to dance amongst fans to the extended intro of ‘Peach Fuzz’ that no matter how many in the room might consider themselves massive fans of Mandy, Indiana, there’s no bigger fan of the band than Caulfield herself.
Her unwaning enthusiasm for performing extends into simply embracing being present for the music her bandmates create. As she paraded the room for the final two songs of the set, potentially their most intense tracks in ‘Bottle Episode’ and ‘Alien 3’, there was a noticeable sense of awe and admiration for her ability to command an audience, with her making a beeline for certain attendees to bestow them with equal amounts of gratitude.
Mandy, Indiana might make music that has a chilling effect, but at their core they’re undoubtedly a warm bunch that are intensely appreciative of the admiration they’ve come to receive in the past few years, and they’re certainly taking this recognition and running with it to continually up their game both in terms of their output and live performance.
There simply couldn’t have been a better place to see the band than in a packed, dark room with vigorous strobing, and while it was certainly exhausting in terms of its intensity, it was equally as exhilarating to watch.