Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vivian Girls / Male Bonding / The Deadlights @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Tuesday 19th May 2009

In the last six days I’ve seen 36 different bands. 36. I’m aware that’s this is probably nowhere near the world record (I wonder what is?), but it’s still an awful lot. The trouble with going to see so many bands (oh so many bands) is the same as if you do anything an awful lot (steady there…perverts). You get a little jaded. Great bands suddenly become good bands, good bands become average bands and average bands…well, let’s not go there. I only mention this because I’ve been thinking (oh dear…here he goes again) recently about just how many bands I’ve seen over the last (mumbles slightly) 20+ years or so. Surprisingly I had a few lean gig years at Uni, mainly because I was as poor as a church mouse who’d fallen on particularly hard times, but since graduating it’s been an non-stop orgy of bands, cider, sweat, the odd bruise or two and a growing ringing in my ears. The answer to my current gig overload is, of course, quite simple. Go on a diet. Cut it out pork boy. But then I just sit at home moping about and thinking that I’m missing some great gig…like THAT pistols show in Manchester when everyone who was there formed a band…or the time Jimi Hendrix first decided to set his geetar on fire or the Misty’s show when Erotic Volvo unveiled his new look (sighs wistfully). Ho hum. This isn’t going anywhere by the way (no change there then)…just thinking, that’s all. If only the human brain could be deleted and you could start all over again…as fresh as a daisy. Obviously you’d keep the boring files that enabled you to read, write and walk in a straight line. But you’d delete pretty much everything else, just for the pleasure of discovering stuff again for the very first time. Like a virgin, touched for the very first time. Eurgh. Write that line down and it looks really sick.

First up The Deadlights. Post punksters with a slight Fall edge in places and a nice line in dual male vocals which worked really well (creating a Spector-esque wall of sound…oh yes). They had a few slower numbers but it’s the faster, heavier stuff that did it for me ‘The Fire Burns For Blood’ and ‘In Your Room’ in particular – Orange Juice meets Eagles of Death Metal.

Next up Male Bonding, who did seem particularly close now I come to think of it...facing each other as they sang (awww how sweet), a fast, grungey bucketful of noise. Some of the guitar parts were more intricate, contrasting with the generally ramshackle performance, but that’s obviously the point of it all. I guess what it needed for me was members of the audience slamming into each other to bring the whole atmosphere alive, but as there didn’t seem to be much of that going on so I made do with banging my head against the speakers. It’s never done me any harm before. Probably.

Finally the main event - Vivian Girls - a band that seem to have the scenesters creaming their… whatever they’re wearing these days. Beats me. I lost track of it all when ‘baggy’ finished. Once again I’ve invented a new genre for this band (oh goody I hear you cry). Punkgaze. See what I did there? Yes, they blend some punk attitude with a movement that seems to be making a bit of a comeback – shoegaze (so named ‘cos bands just stared at their shoes whilst playing noisy guitar dominated soundscapes and singing in a slightly distant way, as though they were thinking of something better to do. But there’s more to them. At times, when the three female voices came together, you get echoes of those great 60’s girl bands like the Shangri-Las (one of their admitted influences) or early Go-Go’s, then there’s some twangy surf guitar in the mix’s like a bunch of outsider schoolgirls nicked their cool Uncle Tommy’s record collection and mashed it all up. At times it all gets a bit messy (must be all those scenesters creaming themselves) but they’re as sweet as apple pie…albeit an apple pie with razor blades in. Grrrr.

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