Friday, May 24, 2013

Tribes / Superfood / The Brute Chorus @ The Institute, Thursday 23rd May 2013

WARNING: This review contains the words ‘Britpop’, ‘Menswear’ and ‘Oasis’.

The video for The Brute Chorus’ Death Came Walking Parts 1 & 2 (I've refrained from popping it up here) isn’t for the squeamish, featuring as it does buckets of fake blood splashed liberally all over the distinctly hirsute band members (fake blood and hairy chests...urgh...not a great look). Happily this evening the only bodily fluid in evidence is sweat, as the group crank out their particular blend of rockabilly, blues and pop. Sporting a modest quiff and rather fetching moustache lead singer James manfully does his best to get the crowd going, strutting about, lunging and throwing shapes, his vocals a mix of Lux Interior meets Billy Childish...with a little 50s Elvis thrown in for good measure. There’s a touch of cabaret about it all from time to time as James ramps up the energy but hell, you’d rather your frontman give it some welly than just stand there like a lemon eh? Good dirty fun. 
The buzz around Superfood right now is roughly as strong as a nuclear powered vibrator (that’s some buzz), mainly down to their swaggering debut single, Superfood which shamelessly plunders Britpop’s early golden era for inspiration. They’ve cannily kept all of their other stuff offline for now and whilst a support slot on PEACE’s last tour have thrown up one or two other shaky live recordings on You Tube there’s still very little out there to judge ‘em on. The Britpop vibe’s pretty strong throughout tonight’s set (Mansun, Blur, Supergrass, Menswear, Longpigs, Dodgy, their spiritual granddaddies The Beatles) and I’m guessing that we’re far enough away from the backlash to see the whole era as a pretty good time for British music, ripe for the plundering. Sure there were some bad records made, some chancers who landed record deals when they didn’t deserve to and the whole thing descended into a bit of a farce but that’s true of any musical ‘movement’. Superfood aren’t merely Britpop revivalists though, they add their own special ingredients (blueberries and quinoa perhaps?), a touch of slacker rock, a twist of grunge and just the merest hint of psych. 

With the exception of set closer Superfood none of the songs played tonight have been heard much in public but they’re all pretty much instantly catchy. It’s unsurprising that local heroes PEACE are fans and it’s pretty much equally certain that Superfood are set for similar success.

It’s been interesting reading some of the comments about Tribes recently, they’re roughly divided into two camps, “terrible woeful hipsters making dull uninteresting music” and “Cool as fuck!” NME gave the band’s new album (Wish To A Scream...out May 30th) a fairly withering review but NME often says shit just to get a reaction these days so we’ll ignore them eh? What they do deliver (Tribes that is...NME stopped delivering anything 20 years ago) by the bucket load are one hands in the air, grab your sweaty mate and jump around anthem after another. Tonight’s set kicked off with The Clash meets The Levellers of When My Day Comes, singer Johnny Lloyd (sporting a black leather jacket with tassels on and an equally shaggily retro haircut) giving it his best anguished rock star vocal. A sizeable portion of the crowd lapped it up from the very first note and within a few songs an impressive pit opened up in the middle of the room. As the gig progressed it was easy to see the appeal. There are some great riffs, angsty outsider lyrics and reliable verse chorus verse song structures giving you just enough of a breather to get ready for the next bit of bouncing up and down. 

They may look back to the late 60s/early 70s for their influences but they’ve picked well with recent single Dancehall moving from Tom Petty territory into a Lynyrd Skynryd style rock out, whilst Sons and Daughters could almost have been a lost Springsteen cover. Looking round the faithful (and most of the people here tonight fall into that category) Tribes’ fans are clearly a pretty devoted bunch and it’s impressive just how many people have already memorised the lyrics to the new stuff. Johnny repays the love by hanging over the barriers, pressing the flesh (always a brave move) as a hundred or so moist teenage hands desperately reach out to him. Okay, so they might not be the coolest band around and some of the tracks might be a little bit beige in places but there’s some good honest rock in there...witness Exhibit A How The Other Half Live, one of the set’s highlights and a song that’s clearly benefitted from the band’s decision to record the new album in LA (maaaaaaaaan). It prompts the biggest mosh of the night, messily proving that there are still plenty of people willing to join this particular tribe.  

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