Thanks to their modern-classic release Peripheral Vision in 2015, Virginia’s Turnover have developed an almost cultish following in recent years. Fans defend both the record and band with their lives, and they’ve become a yardstick to measure releases in a similar vein from artists old and new by. Despite the more muted critical reaction to new record Good Nature, tonight’s show in Manchester is sold out, and the anticipation in the room to see the headliners is palpable.
Seeing Emotional (7) arrange themselves on the Sound Control’s tiny stage is an amusing start to the evening; the six of them don’t seem to have much room to move about by themselves, never mind with their instruments in tow. Even stranger is that none of them look like they should be in the same band. Despite the disconnect in image though, Emotional are tight as an instrumental unit, and their doused-in-the-’80s indie carries well even if the crowd don’t seem as overtly interested as perhaps desired. It’s music that could soundtrack a retro romance film or be played in a cool bar, and it’s a mellow opener to proceedings.
With keyboard and synth work carrying their sound, Palladino (7) are the odd band out on this bill. Their keyboard/bass/drums setup is a promising foundation, but when Turnover’s Austin Getz joins them with his guitar two songs in for a large portion of the set, the beefing up he provides is a much more preferable version of these songs than what Palladino’s prior format, which feels slightly more anaemic in hindsight, offered. But at their core, these songs have been made for dancing, which a few people in the crowd do respond to. With this set, and more than a little help from the guitar addition, Palladino can walk out of the Sound Control with their heads held high.
While there have been two perfectly fine performances already tonight, everyone’s affections are pointed well and truly towards the headliners. But as Turnover (8) take the stage, the crowd atmosphere for the remainder of the night is a strange one to classify. Understandably, there’s a focus on Good Nature material in the set, and whether it’s due to that album not connecting with Turnover’s audience as much in general or the love for Peripheral Vision superseding any open-mindedness towards anything new, the audience reaction peaks and troughs to a noticeable extent throughout the set. Peripheral Vision material is met with adoration and shiver-inducing volume from the floor, but the reaction to Good Nature songs seems mostly polite, with only a sporadic handful of people carrying the Peripheral Vision enthusiasm over. It’s a shame, because the moments the entire crowd are truly invested in what’s going on are electric, and the unfulfilled potential does hang over the rest of the night slightly.
Of course, none of this is Turnover’s fault, and their performance is a completely solid one. It’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it doesn’t need to be – the music is more than enough to meet expectations. There’s no ‘performance’ guise masking anything going on onstage; frontman Austin (who the crowd are already acquainted with from Palladino’s set) is methodical in his approach to addressing the crowd, but still remains endearing, shouting out a Yorkshire vegan café named after Turnover’s Humblest Pleasures, constantly thanking the crowd and sheepishly admitting to the band’s nerves about playing new material after Peripheral Vision’s success (something the crowd probably doesn’t really ease).
What is impressive is how Turnover’s songs retain their potency in this rawer live setting. There’s more of a crunch and fuzz to guitars, but songs like Sunshine Type and Nightlight Girl maintain their warmth and sweetness while the pure unadulterated magic of Cutting My Fingers Off and Humming isn’t compromised one bit. Of course, as mentioned earlier, the songs where the crowd are playing ball are definitely some of the highest points of tonight’s set, but away from that, Turnover are a more than competent live band themselves. If you’re a fan, don’t let material preferences ruin your perception of a Turnover set, just enjoy the wonderful package being offered as it is.
Words by Georgia Jackson