Saturday 29 November 2008

The Beat Hotel: Shrag, The Loves, Smokers Die Younger, To Arms Etc - Buffalo Bar

I fell asleep as soon as I got home from work, and awoke a few hours later, hungry and still uncertain as to when the gig was.

Facebook had said it as tomorrow or was that yesterday? Dinner cooked too quickly, too many chillies, rush across town and I arrive at the Buffalo.

Folk I recognise from the internet stand around, members of Pocketbooks wave hello. The woman on the door keeps me standing for ten minutes whilst she natters to friends before taking my money and stamping my hand. My mood would have been two points better if she hadn't kept me standing outside in the cold.

Inside I've missed To Arms Etc. I keep missing them. At the Twee As Fuck Alldayer, during Esiotrot I was feeling sad and lonely, a guy from To Arms Etc. started chatting to me and raised my spirits. I promised I'd go an see his band, but still haven't quite made it. This weighs heavy on my mind. The tracks on their myspace are great.

The first band I actually see this evening are Smokers Die Younger, a five or six piece playing stark, stabby shouty music. At times sounding like Idlewild underlings Turn, but every so often with Art School Bricolage harmonies.

Smokers Die Younger

In the crowd I see members of The Give It Ups and to my right folk from Electrophonvintage.

What do they make of Smokers Die Younger? Who knows, they clap politely between songs.

A girl with pink hair steps in front of me to take photies of the band on stage, she leans back, occluding my view by about 90%, she's so close I am able to wipe my nose on her pigtails.

Amusement as the singing girl on stage takes apart the singer's mic stand mid-song, it falls to the floor and she has to scrabble around swapping mics.

I had a moment of introspection the other day, wondering what would have happened if I never got to London, if my flight from Glasgow was never instigated last year. Since records began the plan had always been to move to London, see The Loves. I did it 18 months ago and still get a warm fuzzy feeling in my tummy when I stand at the edge of the Buffalo Bar watching The Loves on stage. No matter what else is happening in my life, I know that just here, things are going to plan.

The Loves

The sound's not so good at the edge of the bar, too close to the guitar amps, not enough vocals, so I wonder about to find a sweet spot.

The line-up's changed over the years, 30 members according to the internet. Has it really een a decade since I was at the Roadhouse in Manchester with Nos telling me about them? They have a new rhythm guitarist, Jerome, leather jacket, easy chords, drummer from Pocketbooks, and I don't recognise the keyboard player.

The Loves

They play a lot of newish songs from their new album Three, out on Fortuna Pop in January, and even a song from the next album after that Jenna sings, a soul club number, which requires more subdued lighting and the smoking ban lifted.

Their set finishes with a seque into their evergreen classic Little Girl Blues, sounding as fresh as it did in the Peel session days.


Not sure about the headline act Shrag, it could be my natural bias away from headline acts or its too late in the evening and I'm having internet withdrawl. Cutesy girl vocals, like in the Deirdres sometimes. Mostly droney throbbing guitars, but occasionally early Idlewild chopping. Very abrupt drums. Cute girls, I like the one on the right, but I don't seem to remember this mob at all from Indietracks.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Moustache Of Insanity, The Understudies and Help Stamp Out Loneliness - The Wilmington Arms

Its been a while since I went to a gig on my own. But here I am, somewhat late in the evening.

The location was poorly remembered, so after I'd parked my car there was some degree of wandrin' and soul-searching, trying to remember the name of the venue.
When I wandered in the last band were on stage. They sounded a bt like Lucky Soul, but the shiny singing girl has a distinctive voice, very deep, it sounds familiar. Have I see these people before?

I recognise the guitarist and bass chap, they were in Language of Flowers, I think they were on the same bill as me and the mighty Flyers when I played my London debut gig in '04.

Sometimes I feel like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, with that swiss cheese memory thing. I arrive at a gig, without Zippy or Al to tell me why I'm there, just a vague memory of having clicked on this show in or Facebook, but still trying to figure out why.

I don't remember the name of the band on stage, or any ones I've missed.

I spot Trevor Lost Music and he waves, stood near is the chap from The Understudies, aw man, I've still never reviewed them. Its been three or four times I've seen them play, but never quite got round to typing up my notes.

I was stood lurking in shadows, jabbing at my mobile phone to look like I was doing something. I was skipping through old draft text messages, from when I thought I could text in gig reviews here. It was just notes, but I remember texting that The Understudies sound a bit like Kingmaker, and that I really ought to review them properly instead of going on about never having written about them.

I spot Will Harrison and Elizabeth Darling, from 'Allo Darlin', who I last saw on the platform at Indietracks. I don't see their bongo player.

Were they playing tonight and I missed them? No, they played Brixton the other day, and I remember missing that. Swiss cheese memory.

On the internet later:-

Moustache Of Insanity (Will Harrison's mob) - MP3s here
The Understudies
Help Stamp Out Loneliness (the band with folk from Language of Flowers)