Sunday, May 27, 2007

Datarock / Velofax / Ottogono / Annuals Friday 25th May 2007 The Rainbow...then the Barfly...I'll explain

Taking my tally of bands in just over a week to a mind melting 37...tonight I hit a newish venue for me, the Rainbow pub in dear old Digbeth. I'd been there once or twice back in the day to see bands but hadn't returned for some reason. It's now an altogether better place to see music as they've kind of converted the yard out back. The roof is perspex, so you get natural light...which is all a bit weird as most venues are as dark as hell. I really rather liked it's got a coolness that's shared by The Sunflower Lounge. I only got to enjoy it for one band though. Velofax. They're a totally new band to me, but really rather great. Vocal duties are shared between two chaps, one of whom (the bass player) has the coolest hair in the world, a 'tache and a rather high, disco camp voice. Musically they've got slightly jazzy / rocky / wigged out bits that recall the Mars Volta on a good day.

Next up I was looking forward to Chungking, responsible for Making of my fave tracks of all time. However...just as the band were finishing their soundcheck there was a muffled bang, all the power went off and a slight whiff of burning wire pervaded the room. Balls. Not sure what happened but I feared the whole gig was now off. To the immense credit of the Chicks Dig Jerks people (the promoters) they somehow moved the gig to the nearby Barfly and off we all shuffled. I arrived there just in time to catch Ottogono (there was a battle of the bands kind of night going on and they were the sixth and final act). Very entertaining. A bit Oasis...a bit Small Faces...a bit Led Zepp...the lead singer kept making a gun shape with his two fingers then miming blowing off his own head. At other time's he'd mime fellating a giant cock. Sadly they didn't win...but I'd like to see them again (they gave me a free CD too...).

I was still hoping to see Chungking...and spotted their lead singer supping a pint across the room. She was really sweet and said they probably couldn't play now but if they did it would be after promised to hang(over) around...

Time for the main event, Datarock, purveyors of the finest tune Talking Heads never recorded Fa Fa Fa. To be fair, Fa Fa Fa isn't really indicative of their sound. They're a lot 'rockier' in the flesh. Predictably Fa Fa Fa got the biggest reaction of the night (it really is seriously great) and a number of the audience joined them on stage for a Fa Fa Fa dance party (I remained draped over the barrier like a discarded coat, fearing that too much bouncing and too much cider may not be an ideal combination).

I thought that might be it for the night but the stage bods started bringing more gear on. Like I said earlier, we'd kind of crashed the Barfly so I wasn't sure who was coming next. By this stage in the evening / morning many people had melted away which was a real shame as the final band of the night were quite beautiful. It was totally the wrong audience for charmless drunken buffoon staggered up to me mid set and said 'they're crap...they Coldplay'. They weren't. I suggested he get up there if he could do any better...or perhaps he'd like to give them direct feedback. He declined to take up my advice and shuffled away again...presumably to be sick in his mum's handbag.

Anyway the band played just four or five tunes. At one point four of them played drums, creating a wonderful wall of sound, with the lead singer screaming his vocals like an animal in pain (given the audience apathy I felt like joining him). At other times we were treated to the kind of harmonies that Brian Wilson would give his sandpit for. After they left the stage I was so ashamed at the poor reaction that I ambled off to find the band (a) to thank them for a great set and (b) to apologise for the audience (bear in mind that this band had come all the way from America only to end up playing at 1.30 am to a few people...most of whom couldn't care less).

They were really sweet and accepted that some gigs were just like that...but I could tell they were a tad upset (as you would be). As I was parting I asked the name of their band...'we're called Annuals'. This band are attracting some serious press at the moment, drawing favourable and justifiable comparisons with Arcade Fire. I've seen their name mentioned all over the shop, but not had time to investigate them. And here they were. Standing right in front of me. Some time later one of the band came over to us and asked 'would you like a CD?'. Off he went and came back with an EP for me and Lady, gratis and for nothing. Beautiful music, beautiful people.

The next hour or so was spent bouncing up and down like an idiot to a variety of cool toons until we were almost alone and decided it best to leave before it got light. A strange night in many ways, but then the most memorable often are...

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