Live Report: English Teacher – Gorilla, Manchester

Superstars in the making...

Tonight, Gorilla is heaving. Punters can barely move an inch, the crowd a restless sea of jostling elbows and sheepishly mumbled apologies. Despite the indie rockers only dropping their debut album last month, it seems word of English Teacher has already spread like wildfire; people are desperate to witness the Leeds quartet’s unique brand of cutting punk poetry and vibrant, coursing math rock riffage in person. The evening is set to be a lesson in masterful art-punk – if the gang can meet the staggeringly high expectations.

Of course, when English Teacher finally take to the stage they immediately smash all pre-existing expectations. The irresistible thrum of ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’ roars out, rumbling through the floor, all before frontwoman Lily Fontaine’s ethereal vocals wash over the crowd, weightless. Following track ‘I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying’ only serves to emphasise the communal sense of awe, it’s eclectic, jagged wall of instrumentation mesmerising.

While the gang are able to muster an astounding degree of polish on record, the stage allows each track to have a new life. In action, every sonic quirk is amplified – the slice-and-dice instrumentation is more gritty and gloriously post-punk, while the softer vocals and flourishing indie pop contrasts dip and soar with conviction. And, from the infectious bounce of Sideboob to the twanging indecision of Mastermind Specialism, every feeling is explored through their sharp, experimental soundscaping. 

At one point, Fontaine somehow manages to describe the band’s energy with a simple statement: “life is about flux, there’s ups and downs.” English Teacher can exist in ‘You Blister My Paint’s angelic haze effortlessly, all before delivering an intense burst of spoken word in the form of ‘This Could Be Texas’ and even more bruising poignancy in the form of ‘The Best Tears Of Your Life’.

Amidst the stunning confessionals, English Teacher throw in a few tracks to truly have a party. In honour of Manchester, the gang knock out a cover of The Smiths’ ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’, Fontaine swirling and twirling as she loses herself in the iconic track. It perfectly limbers everyone up for crowd-pleasers ‘Nearly Daffodils’ and ‘R&B’, the room wholeheartedly succumbing to English Teacher’s more punk charms. The tracks are punchier and more raw live, urging on a celebratory pit as the dazzling Fontaine dances around with her jangling tambourine. 

By the time the set draws to a close, the gang coming back out for one final hurrah. The crowd simply demanded it – and the punk could hardly refuse, despite having no remaining tracks at their disposal. Opting for a cover of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’, it serves as a strong reminder of the group’s never-ending versatility. They can tackle any sound they desire, twisting and bending it to their will. It’s a graceful, glorious send off – and it leaves the room truly convinced that English Teacher are superstars in the making. 

Words: Emily Swingle

Related: Scene-Inbetween – English Teacher Interviewed

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