There was a time where I went to loads and loads of gigs. I think in my peak year of about 2008 I went to close to 50. As time when past this little hobby of mine became less sustainable. Gig tickets became prohibitively expensive, they closed quite a few of my favourite venues (RIP both Astorias, I will never forget you) and I started to lose touch with up and coming bands – probably because (according to my friend, Paul’s theory) – I grew up and out of my rock ‘n roll angst. Although I have been to see a few bands over the past couple of years – some of which Mr O wasn’t even in – I haven’t really felt a great desire to review them until I saw Wolf Alice on Saturday night. Read more…
Last night Emily and I went to see Vampire Weekend at Brixton Academy. We were a little late so we missed the oddly named Fan Death so if anyone did see them please do report back. It was definitely an interesting stage design. Mimicking their 2008 album cover, the band had a quartet of chandeliers at the front of the stage with a picture of a vacant looking blonde girl in a Polo shirt looming over them, her wide eyes flashing intermittently white, green and red giving her a strong air of demon possession.
These are boys with a passion for performing, characterised by the adorable Ezra Koenig’s charming onstage banter and Chris Baio’s half slalom-ski-half-running man with a guitar dancing. They approached their set with vigour, even getting a live string quartet on for some of the songs, but somehow something felt like it was lacking. It might have been the fact that Em and I were both a little tired and lacklustre of mood or that the set was tilted heavily in favour of new material, a mistake I feel with an album that’s only a month old, because I’ve seen them before and been mesmerised. There’s no denying that their African inspired, Paul Simon worshiping songs are little 3 minute miracles but maybe they’re more suited to the sun going down at a summer festival or a barbeque than damp, dark Brixton.
Of course this doesn’t mean that I didn’t dance because I did… like a crazy person… and I felt significantly lifted when they finished with my beloved Walcott. I suppose really I’ve been left inspired to buy the new album, which maybe I should have done before the gig.
After 25 years, The Offspring still rock. Barb, Hilton, Josh, Niamh and I discovered this at Brixton Academy when we went to see them last night. Despite the fact that vocalist, Dexter, is showing some middle aged spread and poor old Noodles, with his skunk in a blender haircut, is practically hunched over (he is close to 50, bless him), they still have buckets of energy and the same old California stoner charm that made all of us fall in love with them.
Let’s face it… The Offspring haven’t really put out an album that anyone could be bothered with in 10 years but their back catalogue is blistering with skater-punk, “yeah yeah yeah” fuelled, fist in the air classics and so they scored big with what was pretty much a greatest hits set. The audience went suitably mental, with breakout moshpits popping up all over the floor and a remarkable amount of male semi-nudity ensuing. Niamh and I spotted one guy who had lost his shirt, trousers and shoes.
I think what made it stand out from recent gigs for me was just how much fun it was. We even had an interlude where two roadies came out to entertain the crowd, one leading everyone in a silent arm waving dancing and the other juggling apples that he seemed to be absent-mindedly eating at the same time. By the time we got to Self Esteem everyone was drenched in sweat and grinning from ear to ear. My only complaint is that they didn’t play Gotta Get Away, which is probably my favourite Offspring song. Definitely a fitting warm-up for Reading 09.
I present you with a little video of Dexter treating us to a solo rendition of Gone Away. Who knew he could play the piano?
*my “hilarious” Afrikaans translation of “and all the girlies say I’m pretty fly, for a white guy
Last night I went to see The Subways at Brixton Academy with Josh and his sister, Schwea.
We arrived halfway through the first act. I can’t tell you what they were called because they weren’t on the bill anywhere online and I don’t think they told us their own band name. Anyway, they weren’t terrible but they certainly weren’t good either. I got the feeling that the band hadn’t been playing together long because each of them seemed to be playing their own song. There was no indication that any of them even knew that the others were onstage. Musically they were sound, I suppose, but zero chemistry and their singer was doing a very, very poor Matt Bellamy impersonation. For shame!
Next up were my little Glaswegian favourites, Twin Atlantic. Poor Sam is looking more and more dishevelled every time I see them. He is borderline Bert McCracken at the moment. I did like his purple jeans though. Definitely bringing sandwiches and soap to the next gig. They were initially very clearly nervous but their intense energy and powerful connection with each other was very welcome after the first act. I am totally in love with their new stuff, particularly Crash Land (which you can see below) and apparently they will record their first full-length album in January. Once they got into their stride, they were as wonderful as ever and A Guidance From Colour was, as always, mesmerising.
While we waited for The Subways, I popped to the loo. On the way back I had to wrangle my way through quite a tightly packed crowd and at one point I was right up against this guy who leaned forward and whispered, “you’re a sexual predator” into my ear. Riiiiight. I just stared at him so he said, “it’s gotten weird hasn’t it?” So I said well that is the weirdest thing anyone has ever said to me in a crowd. His response was to growl at me. The retreat was beaten hastily.
If anyone is an inherent natural rock star, it is Billy Lunn. He strode out shirtless and with barely a wave of his hand lifted the entire audience into his palm and kept them there for the full set. He demanded serious crowd participation and we gave it adoringly, freely. It was only fair since he, Charlotte and Josh gave up everything in their performance. There was a lot of “cocky” posturing and strutting that would normally be very irritating but when you are as cool as Billy is, you can do pretty much whatever the hell you like and still make everyone wish they were onstage with you. Their hyperactive set felt pitifully too short and when they stopped pre-encore everyone was a bit stunned. The encore was awesome. Barry from Twin Atlantic came on to lend his cello stylings to Strawberry Blonde to chants of “Barry! Barry!” from the audience. Of course they closed with a riotous rendition of Rock ‘n Roll Queen and everyone left feeling like they had rocked out with their cock out. I have a little video of Oh Yeah for all of you and the photos are here.
With that I bid you adieu. I am off to South Africa this evening and I won’t be back until the 27th. Don’t miss me too much.