6th November 2023
A dark, low-ceiling basement of a small but lively bar in Central Manchester seemed to be the perfect venue for this gig to take place. Unschooling is a French band that produces music which is almost impossible to box into one genre. Given no option, you could probably pin them down to being a progressive fusion of post-punk rock with elements of psychedelia. They brought the perfect energy to the evening. They started off at 21:45 after a couple of local warm-up bands had given the crowd some life.
Even in England, Unschooling demonstrated their crowd-pleasing abilities, singing almost entirely in French. Their set began with high-energy level rock; the drummer keeping the rhythm of the tunes pulsing with an almost excessive amount of cymbal trashing. The lead guitarists drove the danceability of the show with intricate and tricky melodies. And, finally, the vocals almost felt like they were there purely to remind the audience that the impressive instrumental behind them was the main thing to behold.
As the evening went on, the crowd were all clearly in agreement that Unschooling could bring the energy. The tracks that they played became slightly more intimate, toning down the aggressive choruses and walls of sound. The instrumentalists brought in 6-string basses and 12-string electric guitars, making the genre-bending, although quieter, certainly no less weird. This provided us with some of the most interesting (yet confusing) live music I have ever seen. Eventually, the music grew increasingly complicated and less relatable. However, Unschooling did not fail to stay perfectly in time with one another. Somehow they still offered some real crowd-pleasing moments. They stopped the music every now and then to chat with members of the audience.
As the evening drew closer to an inevitable epic finale, Unschooling picked up the pace. They dove straight back into some heavy rock, urging everyone to grab another drink and have a final dance for the night. The end of the night did not disappoint. As the penultimate song ended, the lead guitarist jumped off the stage and into the crowd. He achieved an impressive crowd-surf moment whilst playing his guitar part (perfectly). Later, he sprang back on the stage and into the other band members, causing three of them to fall onto one another on the floor. Somehow, all three musicians continued to play their respective instruments whilst piled on top of each other. Even the microphone stands and cymbals toppled over too. This did provide a perfect opportunity for me to take some well-timed photos which the band greatly appreciated.
Unschooling playing live at YES Manchester was a fantastic evening, and certainly opened my eyes (and I’m sure the rest of the attendees) to a whole new dynamic of performance, as well as some seriously interesting and thought-provoking songs that could even be labelled as the band’s very own genre.
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Featured Image Credit: Rufus Read