Photo by Paul Bridgewater
Why is that gigs are so rarely in the afternoon? RoTa, the free and frequent event put on at Notting Hill Arts Centre by Rough Trade and hosted by various different blogs/websites/promoters/whatever (for this one it’s Line Of Best Fit), starts at the genteel time of 4pm and ends at the equally civilised 8pm mark. It’s wonderful. You can go out, get pissed, watch a few bands, jump around like a loon, and then at the end there’s still time to catch a movie or dinner reservation or greyhound race, whatever your fancy. I am a firm convert to this type of thing.
Anyway – I was there, ostensibly, to see Yuck, a pretty awesome band that I’d heard online having been forwarded by a comrade here at Amelia’s. They were third on the bill, and their name belies their sound. They are a pretty awesome laid-back feedback pop sort of band, as can be heard in their debut single, “Georgia” – there’s a lot of similarity there with a band like The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, although I’ve got to say that I hear a strong echo within “Georgia” of 80s classic “Big Soft Punch” by kiwi post-punk legends The Clean – no? Just me?
Regardless, they’re pretty good on record, so I decided to check them out in the flesh. The other bands on tonight were in the same kind of messy pop vein, that increasingly broad and hard to define genre where the jangle and happiness of surf and indie pop meet with The Jesus & Mary Chain to make upbeat music that’s just dirty enough to avoid being played a lot on Radio 1. Fittingly, the crowd was achingly hip (too many Barbour jackets, too, too many), although later I discovered that Summer Camp, the second band on the lineup, have been considered something of a blogosphere darling for the past while, and that this was their first live show – explaining just quite why everyone was so well-dressed. They had been rumoured to be some kind of Swedish seven-piece from some little godforsaken village out in the middle of nowhere, but turns out it’s actually just Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey faffing about with a keyboard, and they were pretty good, but quite generic and hardly remarkable. Perhaps I needed to familiarise myself with their stuff beforehand, or perhaps all those bloggers just think they’re lovely, or perhaps I’m just being a bit sniffy. Perhaps perhaps perhaps. I really like Warmsley’s solo stuff so I’m going to wait a while before passing real judgement.
But first on the bill were The Last Dinosaur, who I found to be a powerfully disappointing approximation of something great. They had the elements there, but their songs lacked punch, vivazz, kazoom, that indefatigable section that will always bring the crowd to its feet, etc. etc. Summer Camp, I have already discussed above. Yuck were next, and I was slightly perturbed – meeting Danny from the band earlier, I’d been distracted by his erection. “It’s only a Pepsi bottle,” somebody laughed, but it was unexpected, to shake hands with a man in such a state. He’s got a weird sense of humour, that lad. I think he does the illustrations, too, the ones that pepper this review and the ‘Yuck Book’ that I purchased for a whole £1. Compare these images, and the thought of a young skinny Dylanite in tracksuit trousers with a Pepsi penis to, say, their song “Automatic”. Bizarre contrast.
Their slot stuck to the winning formula of messy guitar work and simple pop melody, but it’s undeniable that these guys have something on top of the other bands that do this same trick – it’s not just the weird looks (their drummer has some beautiful hair, he really does) and the artwork with the genital focus and the cheekiness, but more the charisma. They feel like a proper band already, with a proper future ahead of them. It’s strange to find that in a group so early in their development. I remember talking to a friend once about whether this kind of charisma was imbued at birth or gained, and she was adamant that it was the kind of thing that came from the gods. “You’re blessed with it, or you’re not,” she’d say, “I’ve seen Julian Casablancas from the Strokes walking down the street in a full suit (with waistcoat) in 40 degree heat, not sweating, eating a curry – they’re not human, these guys.” I have to concur. And with Yuck… well. I’m not saying they’re the next Strokes. But they’re pretty damn good.
I didn’t get to see Stairs To Korea, because I went to have some food, but I hear they were pleasant.
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