The Manx At High Fidelity Records, Wednesday July 17th 2013
The Manx, a folk band from Los Angeles that I had already seen perform an acoustic show at Vacation Vinyl a few years ago, have recently embarked on a summer tour which started at High Fidelity Records on Wednesday night. I may have said folk because the quartet plays instruments rarely used these days, a banjo, an accordion, an upright bass and a mandolin, which are characteristic of traditional folk, but don’t be fooled, these four are not your next Mumford & Sons! In fact their buoyant energy is closer to punk, they even call their genre ‘Folk Punk Adventure Gore’, and if you want a more precise idea, it is close to the brand of gypsy punk invented by Gogol Bordello, except that The Manx may be playing a new genre, that we could call pirate punk.
They formed in 2010, and I saw them in 2011, and but since, they seemed to have built quite a following! What a difference a few years make! The store had filled up with a young crowd (lots of girls, which is always a good sign for a band) who danced their heart out, fell down on the stage, getting drunk of the music and the free beer offered by the store. This was a wild party, with people moshing, bouncing and jumping, and let’s keep in mind it was a small vinyl place and not the Echo where I ordinarily see this kind of scene.
But the music was wild too, with songs to get drunk too even if you don’t drink at all, fueled by this mix of folk sound delivered with a punk energy, starting in general slowly then accelerating with a mad tempo and making everyone insane. The vocals – especially those of banjo player Tommy Meehan – were always shouted at everyone’s face as if they were told by an old pirate who has sailed the seven seas, and yes, I kept thinking about Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, or may be the Pogues, the connection was obvious,… and may be the Manx will soon get a spot to open for the famous band.
They wanted to stay in folk territory with cool solos of banjo or mandolin (played by Zach Zdziebko), no drums but a mighty bass played by Adam Barnes and the nice addition of an accordion played by Myke Chilian. The songs were in general very short and played very fast, always ending into a culminating moment of furious madness, and if all this may have seemed a bit repetitive, who cares when people (band and audience) had so much fun!
The energy coming from the crowd was so intense I had to move on the other side if I wanted to stay safe and continue to take pictures. A girl fell down on her knees but she continued dancing without even spill her beer can, meanwhile the band was asking for more beer and for everyone to get drunk.
You can check The Manx’s music on their bandcamp but beware, they are certainly not your parent’s idea of folk, but they are definitively onto something, more folk-core than folklore.