Indie-pop, it is well understood, is the preserve of the shy. People who like this often brilliant form of music can be labelled nerds, wet-blankets, bed-wetters, not in with the cool crowd. This is not only untrue, but downright offensive. Unfortunately, I showed up to Comet Gain's first Manchester show in an age alone, didn't speak to anyone else in attendance, fidgeted with my glasses, fumbled my way outside straight after the encore and woke up in my own piss the following morning.
Seriously though, I look at festivals like Indietracks and, although about half the lineup are not to be dismissed lightly, some bands do nothing to relieve the genre of stereotypes. Help Stamp Out Loneliness are, at least on the evidence presented tonight, one of these bands. Far too flaccid a stage presence, with no discernible songs to get snagged on your brain-handle, I can just about see why they are lauded by certain crowds (they sound a bit like some other bands), but there is not enough juice in their batteries.
Comet Gain, on the other hand, play with more power and casual sloppiness that still translates into the old classic formula of Energy passing from Rock Band to Audience via Good Songs played with Conviction. Without Huggy Bear star Jon Slade for this ultra-rare northern show, they still muscle though a whole host of snappy ditties, including a few I knew from their album Tigertown Pictures and what should have been #1 in 28 countries, 'Love Without Lies'. I was also very pleasantly surprised to find that one of a handful of songs I love, have danced to and have never known what it is, is in fact by Comet Gain - the totally tremendous 'Why I Try To Look So Bad'. It's so heartbreaking it evokes the feeling of having been dumped by my true love that very instant. Thankfully, under three minutes later they are playing the next song and my romance is back on.
Some time later they are awkwardly packing up, loitering on stage, no doubt chit-chatting about being faced with the ultimatum of doing just one more, or having to visit another northern cess-pit like Leeds or Middlesborough, in the near future. They pick up their instruments, play a couple more and leave. The atmosphere feels somewhat triumphant, which is odd for an early Tuesday night of not drinking booze.
Afterthought: In clichéd gig reviewer style, my various rock and roll excesses meant I missed the opening act, but I have taken the time to go online, type in their snappy name and listen to some promising pop gems, often with disco-beat, that have convinced me to at least attempt to attend an upcoming appearance.