Thursday, 25 October 2007

Meet Me Where The Sweat Descends

Les Savy Fav/Clockwork @ Bar Academy, Manchester, 21/10

On record Les Savy Fav are one the best post-punk bands around, almost wholly responsible for the “Brooklyn sound”, the sound of angular, delay ridden guitars and danceable rythms. Live, however, Les Savy Fav essentially become the Tim Harrington show – a one man lesson in how to be to be the perfect frontman. That’s not to dismiss the rest of the band, who play as tightly and aggressively as any new band on the block and not like a band who’ve been together for upwards of ten years. But when your singer is half naked and stood delivering his vocals from the middle of the crowd, you’re going to take a back seat.

Opener “The Equestrian” sees Harrington come onstage wearing a top hat, cloak, and a mask made of tights. As the band tears through what is probably the best song on their new record, Harrington slows removes his costume whilst delivering a vocal about sex and horse riding. By the end of the second song, he is semi-naked and running about the crowd. The rest of the band seem nonplussed, playing on as if nothing special is going on. It would be possible to claim that such behaviour suggests that Harrington's stage moves are rehearsed but there is a level of excitement in his face and stage banter, an excitement that many bands lack, which suggests that he's acting this way because he is enjoying himself as much as the crowd dancing at the front. To the people standing still at the back, who look like they're "updating their blogs", Tim sings "Yawn, Yawn, Yawn" from the sound desk, and encourages them to join in on the heart-shape hand waving during "We'll Make A Lover Of You"; not only do LSF rock the party, but they rock it and include everyone.
More stage theatrics include multiple shirt shaping, a costume made up of cricket equipment and Tim marrying two members of the audience.

As for the songs they play,most of the set is made up of material from the new record Let's Stay Friends. Whilst on record some of the tracks sound a bit flat, they all come good live, particularly the dead sexy vibe of "Patty Lee" and the final call of "nineteen-ninety nine, nineteen-ninety nine's alright" during "The Year Before The Year 2000"; the frankly awesome "Raging In The Plague Age" sees a single audience member get on stage and reveal himself to everyone present. If you're going to try and upstage LSF try not to get thrown out. And the we have the encore. One more costume change and they're back on; ripping through "Who Rocks The Party" (clue: Les Savy Fav rock the party) and going straight into an awesome rendition of "ROME". And then it's all over as quickly as it begun. Simply, LSF are better than pretty much any band around. Here's to next year's ATP.

Les Savy Fav - "ROME"

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Caught By The Fuzz

Strange Death Of Liberal England @ Fuzz Club, Sheffield 27/9
The Brakes/The Xcerts @ Fuzz Club, Sheffield, 4/10
The Rascals @ Fuzz club, Sheffield, 11/10
Foals/Cut Off Your Hands/The Great Eskimo Hoax @ Plug 10/10
White Mice/some other guys om laptops @ The Red House 15/10

The new University year sees the return of Fuzz club, a good excuse to go out and watch a crappy band with bad sound and then dance to some indie hits and get beer spilt on your jeans and shoes. The first three weeks of this year don't disappoint - Strange Death Of Liberal England sound terrible and seem so much worse than the last time I saw them, despite them playing exactly the same set; maybe their performance losing something in a venue as large as Fusion or maybe their poor man's Silver Mont Zion shtick was more obvious. Brakes and The Xcerts were both bad and The Rascals were so bad that no-one bothered to clap them. Being friends with Alex Turner doesn't guarantee you tunes. Just look at Milburn.
As always, the indie disco provided some interesting song choices. Steve Lamacq playing Supergrass' "Caught By The Fuzz", whilst highly appreciated by the slightly older attendees, did seem an odd choice; a quick bit of maths tells me that any freshers present would have been about 8 when it came out. I'm not sure what my point is - maybe that I'm getting old. Another interesting one was Foals getting played fairly late into the night. That's the power of Yoof TV for you.

Speaking of Foals (subtle link, no?), their gig at Plug was an exciting affair. At least it was for the kids down the front. Once again the power of Yoof TV - it kind of reminds me of the speech at the end of this video. But maybe I'm too cynical. I was stood at the back. The less jaded me would probably accept the Ian Williams guitar worship and post-punk drum beats and be glad that it's not another band that sound like The Libertines. But I'm jaded and cynical so as far as I can see they only have one song and it goes bum-tish-bum-tish with some guitars that sound like they belong on American Don. One Foals song is good. 8 Foals songs are grating and repetitive.

As for White Mice, the half hour spent wondering around Sheffield trying to find the venue and the subsequent hour or so wait for any sort of band to play was rewarded with a fine set of noise rock, fairly reminiscent of Lightning Bolt but with added noise. Such are the wonders of DIY.

That's your lot for now. Sunday is Les Savy Fav in Manchester. Let's hope I have more to say about that.