Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Los Campesinos! / Swanton Bombs / Islet @ The Rainbow, Monday 1st March 2010

The Interweb. You really have to be all over it (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Asbo, Hobo, GoGo blah blah blah) if you’re in a band these days don’t you? Well, you don’t have to be, but I can’t think of any band that’s deliberately (I presume it’s deliberate...either that or they can’t be arsed...which isn’t half as exciting) shunned the world wide web...until now that is. Meet Islet. Billed as a ‘No Wave’ group from Cardiff they seemingly don’t want to be part of the wwworld as we know it. Can’t blame ‘em really. A couple of chaps have set up a fan site for them but that’s as much as you’re going to get...for now. If you want to see and hear much more of them you have to get off your arse and schlep down to a gig. So schlep I did. And I’m really rather glad I did. Performing like four people possessed, Islet (three boys, one girl) thrashed, screamed and jammed their way through 20 odd minutes of mayhem. You know the noise that goes on inside your head when you’re stuck in the three items or less queue at a supermarket and everyone in front has trolley full of stuff...none of which are on the ‘system’...and they want to pay using a bizarre selection of coupons? Or imagine throwing two drum kits, several guitars (plugged into their amps, naturally) a cowbell...hell why not add the cow too...and Can (the ultra cool German Krautrock band) band down the stairs. Er...it sounds like that. Sort of. Bonkers...but quite possibly brilliant. At the end of every song the band kind of rotated and swapped instruments) so, at various times, everyone played guitar, keyboard, drums...each other (seriously, they started hitting each other with little tambourines at one point). The double drumming pieces (two drummers, drumming in perfect sync) were particularly wondrous, pounding away like maniacs they sent dozens of shards of splintered wood flying through the air. I kind of hope that Islet never ever releases any music. A strange thing to say I guess, but it would be a little like trying to bottle a kick in the crotch and a kiss...

Next up, Swanton Bombs. Two men, one drum, one guitar. Playing stripped back street blues, they’re as raw as a freshly cut knife wound...which is what makes it for me. Thump the hell out of your instruments, yell your lyrics as though your life depended on it and then vanish backstage for a hand job and a can of Special Brew (NB: I’m not sure the band actually did this...but I’d like to think they did ).
Los Campesinos!...well, one of them anyway

Finally Los Campesinos! I’ve seen this band before a few years back and kind of forgot how good they were/are. That happens a lot. The problem with seeing loads of bands and having access to pretty much everything ever recorded on the Interweb (apart from Islet obviously) is that you (well...me certainly) miss out on developing that kind of band loyalty that you had back in the day when a record purchase was a serious business. Yep, I’m a musical whore, skittering off to my next musical thrill on an almost daily basis, which inevitably means that bands often slip off my radar. Able to pull off joyful pop (witness ‘You! Me! Dancing!) and Arab Strap style misery (say hello to ‘The Sea is a Good Place...’) tonight’s gig was more than enough to put them firmly back in my sights. Kicking off with the snappily titled ‘I just signed. I just sighed. Just so you know’ they set out their musical stall with a gloriously loud and thrashy workout (there’s 8 of the buggers up there on the stage you know...including a violinist...well, why not eh?), the pissed off shouty bloke’s vocals neatly contrasted by one of the girl’s sweeter than honeydew voices. ‘ Romance Is Boring ‘ (the title track from the new album – out now) was half Art Brut, half X-Ray Spex – a short and bittersweet anti Valentine’s Day card (ha...take that Clintons) and proof that the band’s winning way with the sing along chorus is alive and well. Speaking of which, both ‘You! Me! Dancing’ and ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’ got energetic airings tonight too, bookending another new track, the aforementioned Arab Strap-tastic ‘The Sea Is a Good Place to Think About The Future’. Pared back, by the band’s standards at least, it was one of the highlights of the gig for me (but then I’m a miserable bastard at the best of times). Proof, perhaps, that Los is more...

PS: There will be pictures...proper pictures...over at my other home, Gig Junkies (pop in some time, I'll put the kettle on and we'll have a natter), courtesy of Mr Wayne Fox esq.

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