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Les Mistons1914s
Les Mistons
Bull And Gate, London
Thursday September 8 2011


Under the baleful purple glare of the Bull And Gate's spanking new LED lighting rig, Les Mistons look strangely cold, as if they're playing a gig on a frosty field in winter and they've forgotten to bring their duffle coats. Fortunately, once they kick off, things warm up a bit.

Les Mistons look disarmingly normal. Three indie boys doing the regular indie-guitar thing, right? Actually, Les Mistons are rather more interesting than their regular guys in T-shirts image might at first suggest.

They conjure up an impressively wide-screen sound, electronics pushing the songs onwards and upwards, drums rolling and tumbling. Why, things get positively epic at times. It's not easy to be epic at the Bull And Gate, but Les Mistons manage it. They combine the wide-open-roads quality of the Triffids with the grandiose big-gesture rock stylings of Muse, and while I personally would rather they didn't go too far in the Muse direction (because that way prog-madness lies), the band's ability to make The Big Music in a small venue is undeniably impressive.

Paradoxically perhaps, amid all this bigness, my favourite bits of the set come when the band take it all down to some moments of minimal, almost dubby, electronics, but these are mere interludes in Les Mistons' surging billow of sound. The bleakly under-lit stage might create the impression of a frosty field, but these boys have their eyes on the wide horizon.

1914sThe 1914s arrive to inject some wayward glamour into the proceedings. The band inhabits some weird glam-techno art-boudoir of the imagination (well, my imagination, anyway) where Andy Warhol and John McGeoch hobnob with Stephen Mallinder and Karen O. I don't know if those four people ever met in reality, but something of their styles collide in the 1914s.

Interjections of guitar punctuate synth-sweeps as abrasive sandpaper. A programmed beat bomps and shuffles as if it hasn't buckled up its funky platform boots. It's a big, thunking Goldfrapp-on-BZP sound, as chunky as seventies furniture.

And yet, when the guitar shoves in its scratchy fingers and the electronics get all fuzzy and glitchy, it's as detailed as a circuit diagram.

Over all this bumping and grinding, the band's singer, an assured drama diva with an eighties tumble of hair and a glittery sixties party outfit, drops a vocal that scales the heights and then swoops down again as if strapped to a rollercoaster. It's a counter-intuitive element: you'd expect the precision-controlled distort-o-groove of the music to be topped by a deadpan Ladytron-like voice, and yet the 1914s ladle this towering soul-holler over everything.

The oddly disparate elements of the 1914s sound could so easily have turned into a car crash, but somehow the band weld it all together - I was going to say, so you can't see the joins. But actually, you can see the joins, and that's the whole point. It's all about the rough edges encircing the slinky grooves.

If you're not already a member of the 1914s' glam-techno art-boudoir of the imagination, better bang in your application now. When the world at large discovers this band, I think there's going to be a rush.




1914s: MySpace | Facebook

Les Mistons: MySpace | Facebook


For more photos from this gig, find the 1914s by name here.


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