Asking someone if they fancy going to see The Hyena Kill in their hometown of Manchester is a bit like asking the infamous question of “Does a bear shit in the woods?” Playing their biggest show to date, the atmosphere in Manchester’s Academy 3 is palpable and having met a few friends on the way in, it’s going to be a good night.
The Pearl Harts get the unenviable job of opening tonight’s proceedings. Much like last time I saw them when they opened for RavenEye’s debut Glasgow gig and Blues Pills. Suitably heavy, the twosome bring blues by the bucketload. Relying on a looped bass it gives Kirsty the freedom to hammer out riffs on her Gibson SG as she spars with drummer Sara. It’s largely the same riffs but the already sizeable crowd is lapping it up. Warming the crowd up, they’re a good fit for tonight’s bill if a little flat compared to what follows.
The Empty Page are a band I’ve been wanting to see for some time now. A home turf gig for this trio, the bass-heavy punk/grunge fusion ups the ante. Visibly excited to be part of this bill, there’s a passionate fan base in tonight for them. With a couple of songs based around their native Manchester, guitarist Giz, drummer Jim and bassist/vocalist Kel create some hook-filled, fuzz-dialled-to-eleven quality songs and captivate their audience. Their set passes in a blur to the point when Kel introduces the last song; my only thought is “Already?” which is always a sign of a good set.
Keeping with tonight’s theme, The Hyena Kill delivers on the promise of increasing the heaviness. Once the intro of the Ghostbusters theme has subsided, the noise rock duo hit the stage with more force than an out-of-control double decker bus, launching into “Tongue Tied”. Usually further into the set, it shows the pair aren’t taking any prisoners tonight.
Fellow Atomised tracks “Your Loss” and “Crosses” follow in quick succession before Steven Dobb and Lorna Blundell say their hellos. Between jokes about Taylor Swift, Blundell greets the crowd with “I’ve got a microphone but I’ve got nothing to say except thank you, you beautiful bastards!” Gratitude emanating from the both of them, a cocktail of disbelief and excitement at the size of the crowd they’ve garnered.
The chemistry between the pair of them is tangible as Dobb screams his vocals in between thrashing his Les Paul as if it had performed some mis-deed upon him. And to ensure it’s kept in line, he makes it produce some of the filthiest riffs you’ll ever hear. Meanwhile, Blundell is equally smashing her drum kit to within an inch of its life. However, they’ve got a whole load of new songs in their arsenal which, whilst different from the debut album, are still stamped with The Hyena Kill. Following a psych/trippy number with an ethereal vibe, an already familiar cymbal crash is teased before the eardrum-shredding “Panic Womb” is unleashed. Perhaps the most Hyena Kill-sounding song ever, the 80-second beast is visceral.
Steven snarls into his microphone before they channel 70s rock with the next new song; it’s highly charged and loaded with wah before hitting an older number and closing the night with the riff-loaded “Still Sick”. Having only witnessed The Hyena Kill play a 30-minute set in the past and always feeling far too short, tonight just falls short of the hour mark and it’s nothing short of incredible. The fact they managed to deliver such a tight set, every fibre of their being thrown into the performance for far longer than usual and do it without keeling over should be applauded. Delivering their best performance to date without a single fault, they effortlessly showed they’re one of the best bands in the UK right now.