It seems these days that if you're a band from Manchester and want to make it big you simply have to tell the media to go fuck themselves. Following this you then head straight to your nearest dark cellar or underground club where you busily paint bandanas, splice YouTube videos together and post cryptic pictures on the internet. In an age where bands appear to live vicariously through social media sites, telling you everything from their influences to what they had for breakfast that morning, it seems odd that there are bands that do the exact opposite. (Or maybe not that odd when your manager happens to be a founder of a major Manchester PR agency, aka Wu Lyf). But this approach has its flaws and when the time comes to stop making silly masks and, you know, actually release some music, the media are expectantly sharpening an array of critical knives, forks and sporks, readying themselves to cut deep into your musical flesh. 

Which brings us to tonight’s gig, Stay+ (the artists formally known as Christian AIDS; 'The kind of name you call your band in secondary school just to get into trouble' my friend noted, even before the 'cease and desist' order from the charity with similar branding) and their first musical outing in the capital. Breaking onto the scene a few months back with a pocket full of tunes and even less information, Stay+ managed to create more buzz than a box full of hornets (NEVER ATTEMPT TO COLLECT A BOX FULL OF HORNETS) until the inevitable NME piece came, within which even the writer had to admit they didn't know much about the band. And so it's with that at mind, whilst most of the capital are in Hyde Park listening to a band singing songs about suburban America, that we find ourselves in the dark back room of a grotty little pub in Dalston confronted by three projected screens of static listening to ambient music, waiting for something to happen. And nothing does, for a while at least. It's eerily quiet. Two hours later and a crowd forms; smoke starts to appear. A group of four people emerge from the side door and stand just in front of the stage facing the audience, each wearing a black T-shirt brandishing a single letter that when combined spells 'STAY'. Two further members (possibly, it’s hard to tell who is or isn't in the band at this point) take to the stage wearing '+' T-shirts and start fiddling with laptops to produce a throbbing bass sound. 

A ridiculously heavy beat drops and a girl rocks up to the mic. Singing with gusto, it’s hard to make out what she’s saying over the loud beeps and clicks of the track but it gels well with the harsh electronic tones. Not stopping for breath, the first track merges into the second; people are unsure where one track ends and one begins so remain silent throughout the set. A seemingly random observer at the front of the audience takes to the mic for the second track; his vocal is flipped, cut-up and reversed by the masters of ceremony behind the laptops. The set continues much in the same manner, songs flowing form one to the next. Eager fans of debut single (also called ‘Stay +’) and subsistent b-side let out a small ‘whoop’ upon hearing the familiar beats kicking in. ‘Young Luv’ in particular is a highlight: its doom laden thuds echoing through the small band of people all hypnotically nodding along. The evening almost plays out like some sort of post-apocalyptic techno rave; the last group of survivors coming together to pay homage to these mysterious religious leaders. 

The final track sees the male vocalist from earlier descending into the crowd, writhing around on the floor screaming into the mic before the final synthetic kick drum of the evening shudders out through the temporary PA. It’s after this that the four people in shirts at the front start to move off and the audience let out their praise, which has slowly been bubbling away since the band started. Dazed, bewildered and confused - but under no doubt that we have just witnessed something life affirming - we emerge from the back room to carry on with our frail little lives. As for Stay +, they are off to parts above, beyond and unknown - but I do hope that wherever they end up they keep us in the loop now. If people weren't convinced by the diversion tactics before, surely they've been converted by what unfolded before them tonight? I've certainly renounced all my doubts and have fully committed to the church of Stay+. Hallowed be their (new) name.