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  • Misa Mlambo

Live Review: The Aces @ Manchester Academy 2

In the era of boygenius and MUNA, four Utah-raised musicians emerge with hearts and dreams larger than their ‘repressive’ hometown. The Aces, consisting of sisters Cristal Ramirez (Vocals), Alisa Ramirez (Drums), along with Bassist Ken Petty and Guitarist Katie Henderson, return to the UK to share tracks from their June album, ‘I’ve Loved You For So Long’. We attended their Manchester show at the Manchester Academy 2.

The crowd is a vibrant tapestry of eccentricity, with attendees sporting chipped nail polish, glittered faces, leather jackets, doc martens and septum piercings – all signalling, ‘we’re here, and we’re queer’. After a stellar performance from the funky and talented London-based supporting act, Belot, The Aces grace the stage dressed in matching white collar shirts, leather jackets and skinny black ties. Their simple, yet edgy aesthetic reimagines what a modern Rock band looks like. The quartet ignite their fans, who express their excitement with feral cheers and screeches as they open with the bright, Pop track ‘Always Get This Way’. Cristal and Ken’s electric energy rubs off on the once-idle Mancunian crowd, as they repeat the lyrics back at them in unison, confirming that The Aces live up to their hype.

Smoothly dancing in between sets, Cristal and Ken maintain the energy at an all time high and with the help of Alisa’s tireless drumming, the pace of the show keeps the huge smile on the crowd's faces. As Katie plays the Funk-Pop riff for ‘Don’t Freak’, the crowd can hardly contain their excitement and impatiently jump into the lyrics before Cristal’s cue. “Thank you so much for being here tonight with The Aces; its such a fucking honour to play for you”, Cristal says as she welcomes the crowd. The screams echo throughout the room as she begins to sing one of the fan favourites, ‘My Phone is Trying to Kill Me’ in a velvety and vibrant tone. The song explores the lonely moments when you’re scrolling through your ex-lover’s social media pages, a feeling most have come to know at some point in their past.

Moving later into their setlist, Cristal’s soft voice cracks through the speakers: “A 14-year-old queer girl from the suburbs of religious Utah, whose only real joy and peace was found puzzle-piecing melodies together in the basement''. The soul encapsulating Rock ballad resonates heavily amidst these politically charged times as it continues to recall the experience of a closeted teen. Now, with her red guitar in hand, Cristal shouts into the mic, “Manchester we heard it’s Pride!”. A roar erupted from the crowd, as they waved their LGBTQ+ flags. After expressing immense gratitude for the opportunity to perform far away from home, the band takes us to the end of their set with a super pumped, rom-com-esque performance of ‘Daydream’.

The Aces have come a long way from their small hometown where they first unearthed their ambitions to take on the music industry. Influences such as Lorde, Michael Jackson and Paramore have contributed to their effortless, sweet and meaningful work. The Indie slayers still have several U.S states to visit to complete their tour, and as time goes by, we are keen to witness the growth and global expansion of The Aces’ community.


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