THE EMPTY THREATS LIVE IN MANCHESTER – WHAT HAPPENED?

The Empty Threats are a band that deserves to be taken seriously. Hailing from Adelaide, South Australia they have honed their craft for eight years in a scene, I’m told, is similar to Manchester’s and last year they released their debut album, Monster Truck Mondays, an immense follow-up to their 2021 self-titled EP which saw them continue to tackle anxieties and issues such as colonialism, capitalism and existential dread.

The post-punk outfit, affectionately known by fans as ‘The Empties’, arrived in the Northern Quarter for the penultimate date of their European tour in fine form. Expectations were high for the band, who in 2023 were crowned Best New Act at the South Australian Music Awards, and their performance at The Castle was no disappointment as they proved themselves to be an energetic and unpredictable live act. 

Manchester’s own Ladybarn delivered a stellar supporting set full of jazz harmonies, catchy hooks and drawing displays of multi-genre soundscapes. Their performance laid the foundations for The Empty Threats who, after a brief interlude, took the stage and kicked things off with the catchy ‘Sunday Night’.

The band delivered the perfect introduction to any unfamiliar attendees and frontman Stu Patterson displayed his full vocal range in a rendition that at times reached Julian Cope levels of grandiosity. Contemporary absurdness, ‘I spilt coffee on my new iMac’, and mental illness were themes highlighted on their next track, ‘ATACB’. Its rendition saw Stu throw himself into the chorus full throttle, channelling a mixture of Layne Staley, Iggy Pop and Shame’s Charlie Sheen.

The track, which culminated in a frenzied, guitar-heavy finish that My Bloody Valentine would be proud of was followed by ‘Cmiling’, an unreleased tune that paints a positive picture of things to come. When chatting to the band after the show it is evident that they are keen to steer away from their indie-pop infancy and advance into darker soundscapes, something proven in their live performance. 

‘Dear Sunshine’ provided a laid back sticky fingers-esque intro which graduated into a sucker punch melting-pot of sophisticated sounds, all accomplished in under 3 minutes, and displayed the band’s versatility and knack for experimentation. This was followed by ‘Jason’s Bad Trip’, a tune which carries a conventional indie sound to disguise the illuminatingly ironic set of lyrics describing, as the title suggests, a bad trip, and shows the band’s wicked sense of humour.

Another unreleased and, as yet, untitled tune saw The Empties frontman venture away from the stage to urge the sparsely scattered crowd to join him in a pogo dance. A prodigy-like interlude was segwayed into a rendition of Evil Eye. The single brims with nihilism, ‘there is no future, there is no past’,  and matches crashing guitars with heavy-hitting percussion work to bring a quasi-shoegaze sound reminiscent of Birmingham band Jaws. 

The Adelaine outfit concluded their performance with a rousing rendition of ‘ Boys in the Gutter’, the band’s most punchy and pure punk performance of the night. Their post-punk influence, taken from bands such as Shame, was no more evident than on the track and it was delivered with all the vigour of their South London contemporaries.

The lyrics highlight abortion rights, ‘The pope has a nation, to hide the shame In the church’s name,It was Roe V Wade, god’s gracious gift’, and demonstrate the Aussie’s political side, showing they aren’t afraid of speaking up. Fellow Australian bands The Chats and Amyl and the Sniffers have made waves globally in recent years for a distinct punk sound and despite The Empty Threats moving closer in that direction they seem to be at their best when rejecting any conformity.

Despite the modest crowd, they played an appropriately condensed set and blitzed through a series of tight renditions like they had something to prove. The Empty Threats are a band that I’ll be sure to keep tabs on and I urge everyone reading to do the same. 

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Words by Sam Rodgers

Photo Credit: Nash Blight 

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By mykct