Portico Quartet – Gorilla, Manchester

The basement of Gorilla has always been my go to for punk rock shows. From The Julie Ruin to Pissed Jeans, I’ve seen them all. Portico Quartet at the Gorilla was certainly a different vibe than I’m used to down there. I know the venue doesn’t just play noise rock numbers, but to see a different style in a place the mind has built as the haven for head banging and mosh pit bruisers, it’s kind of strange. Like how an assembly hall at school can be transformed into an end of year disco.

Never has a basement been so chilled to sweat within. 

Portico Quartet mix jazz and electronica to make seriously smooth instrumental beats. It’s borderline coffee shop muzak, but there is enough divergence in each piece to make them a little more interesting than the background noise they could so easily have been. Not that it stopped many from talking through the whole set. You wouldn’t get that at The Julie Ruin.

When they played the sax loud to drown out the crowd I felt one step closer to finding a zen like state of mind, and not because it often reminded me of the soundtrack that made Art of Balance such a calming experience. When the electro took control of the dance floor, it evoked early Orbital, and believe me when I say that’s never a bad thing. Orbital with saxophone, yeah, I can go for some of that. And I did. As did others, dancing on Ketamine.

To make ambient jazz this good, it takes four. Any less, it’s coffee shop jazz. Any more, and it would be a spilt tray of coffee shop jazz. As four they make basement jazz. It’s just the right blend for that.

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