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Review: Mandy, Indiana @ Dareshack

Blasting the audience with an onslaught of sound, the English-French noise rock quartet left the crowd stunned with ringing ears.

By Louis Amor, Third Year Zoology

It’s been just over a year since my first encounter with Mandy, Indiana. Supporting Gilla Band at The Trinity Centre, the mere 30 minutes they had on stage left a huge impression on me. I hadn’t quite heard a sound like it before, some strange noisy rave fronted by a tense vocalist who gradually let loose with the bands progressively fiercer sound. I left the gig only wanting more, and since then, their thrilling debut album i’ve seen a way has sustained this. I eagerly walked into Dareshack, ecstatic to hear the tracks I was now much more familiar with.

The night opened with the animated, sibling duo Slap Rash. While their sound wasn’t particularly groundbreaking, their act was loud and tremendously fun. Bassist Huw Lloyd looked like he was in a constant battle to stay grounded, bouncing on the spot and throwing his body around whilst blasting out fast-pace punk riffs. Whilst he was physically hitting his bass, drummer, and vocalist Amelia Llyod somehow managed to find the breath to shout down the microphone whilst hammering her drums at a head-throbbing pace. Consequently, this left them completely out of breath between songs, as Amelia jokingly remarks “we sound the like most asthmatic sibling band ever”.

It was a short wait before Mandy, Indiana were on stage, building up anticipation by coming on one at a time to the swaying synths of “Love Theme (4K VHS)”. The crowd erupted into applause as vocalist Valentine Caulfield stepped on stage. Her presence throughout the show was fantastically bizarre. She has an impressive range of deliveries, flowing effortlessly between tense whispers to powerful rants alongside the loose and wild instrumentals. Transitioning into the ferocious “Pinking Shears”, this track was the perfect example of the two-sided nature of her performance. In moments, she was rooted to the ground, gripping the microphone, and deeply focused on her tight delivery. As the track was layered by sharp, stabbing guitar screeches, this tension broke, as she stepped away from the mic to transcendently dance along with the music.

One element of the show I was massively impressed with was their ability to make an already small room feel so much more claustrophobic with sound. “Drag [Crashed]” particularly stood out to me as brutally loud, with Scott Fair’s whining guitar and Simon Catling’s synths combining to produce this strained siren noise, it felt as though the sound was physically squeezing you. However, even within this unyielding sound, a dance worthy rhythm persisted thanks to the amazing performance from drummer Alex Macdougall, which kept me moving throughout. Eventually, this song exploded into its exceptional climax, the whole band joining together to simply make as much noise as possible, the sound attacking the headbanging audience from all angles.

The barbarous nature and energy of their performance was consistent throughout its entire length, and this expressed the bleak themes of their music in an ingenious way. This is particularly helpful given that i’ve seen a way is written entirely in French. Although I admittedly found it difficult to sing along to the lyrics, it was Valentine’s irate performance and the vicious noise of the band’s sound that allowed me to follow and understand the frustration and motivation behind their music. It was this ability of the band to throw their emotions at the audience in such a captivating and unique way that left me deeply moved.

Courtesy of Louis Amor

It is difficult to sum up Mandy, Indiana’s sound into one distinct genre. It’s an awesome amalgamation of dance, punk, and noise which they’ve crafted into a distinctive, expansive, yet inherently tense sound. At the end of the show, this tension was brought directly into the audience and physically felt as Valentine paced amongst the audience, taking sharp, sudden turns whilst singing intently into the microphone. Whilst doing so, the microphone cord physically wrapped around mine, and few audience members feet, as she sat down just in front of the stage. The wire around our shoes relaxed as she effortlessly eased the rigidity of show and the instrumentals calmed down. She stood and gave a beaming smile to the audience as we cheered, almost as if breaking character before ending the show.

Despite a lack of engagement with the audience between songs, Mandy, Indiana performed an absolutely stunning, ruthless set that fully immersed the crowd into their exciting, up and coming sound. I left the venue with the ringing in my ears deafening any immediate thoughts I could have regarding the show. It was a lot to digest, but looking forward, I am certain this band’s unique sound and enthralling performances are going to take them far.

Featured Image: Louis Amor

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