Artrocker club @ Buffalo Bar, London
Tuesday January 22 2008
up, artrockers of London. It's Tuesday night. That means it's time
to turn your pointy boots in the direction of that red-paintedbasement
somewhere under the streets of Islington, the Buffalo bar. Tonight
we're here for another of Artrocker magazine's regular club events,
at which assorted post-punkers, modern popstrels, and denizens of
the left-field indie-ish zone get to show what they can do.
Lesser Panda can do is, essentially,
throw down taut indie-dance workouts, every song based around a
no-shit beat, over which guitars throw chunks and vocals wail. The
Artrocker website namechecks Bauhaus by way of a comparison, but
while it's true that the band has a song which sounds like the first
cousin of 'Kick in The Eye' (it even has the samne 'Ahhhh-Ooooh'
backing vocals) there's no real similarity otherwise.
Lesser Panda trawl their influences somewhat more widely, and construct
a robust, rhythmic noise that nods in the direction of Gang of Four-ish
punk-funk while remaining rooted in the dark soil of introspective
indie. A sort of Smiths you can dance to, in a way. The boys in
the band favour casual scruffiness by way of style: we're very much
in the casually scruffy jeans 'n' T-shirts zone here, and I have
to say I'm a little underwhelmed by the band's no-image image. Yeah,
yeah - I know what you're going to say - it's the music that matters,
right? Well, sure, but rock 'n' roll (even at the left-field indie
dance end of things) is an audio-visual art form. Lesser Panda have
the makings of a cool after-dark indie dancefloor sound, but I'd
appreciate it if they didn't dress like model railway enthusiasts
while they were making it.
Pirates look the part. That is, they're rocking the cool-indie-kids-in-the-student-union-bar
style (there, a whole swathe of fashion instantly defined!) and
they have a suitably ripped up sound to go with it. I'm reminded
of all those where-are-they-now indie bands I used to hear on Janice
Long's evening show on Radio One, years ago (The Weather Prophets
- they coulda bin contenders, you know) and if that makes Innercity
Pirates sound like they're following a well-trodden trail...well,
perhaps they are.
The songs are punchy, but not quite punky; the guitar is abrasive
without ever quite roughing the listener up. They're a pop group,
but they sound like their world is defined by student union discos
and murky inde clubs, nights of subsidised cider and bashed-up songs
full of jangle and fuzz. The band captures the mood and the sound
of quintessential indie-dom rather well, although I wonder if they
really stamp their own identity on the music with sufficient authority.
I dare say we'll see.
can be no quibbles with Miss Pain's
ability to establish their own identity. All of a sudden, we've
left the indie disco and we're now present at a surreal performance
art happening, hosted with deadpan humour by three glammed-up conceptualists
who seem to have beamed down from a Top Of The Pops audience, circa
1982. The three Pains are dressed in white and acssesorised with
pink feathers, don't ask me why.
girl-Pains, wearing exquisite head prefect expressions, frown over
their array of vintage analogue synths as if expecting them to do
naughty any minute. The boy-Pain grins amiably and totes his guitar
like a reluctant rock star. They kick up a racket that sounds like
Devo being shoved down a waste disposal unit while the B-52s smash
crockery in the background. It's all angles and thumps, synth-squiggles
and squelches, exhilarating and accessible even as it gets gloriously
short, Miss Pain produce splendidly off-kilter pop-art in action,
delivered with an ironically arched eyebrow and many a sideways
glance. All of which, incidentally, cannot quite drive the thought
from my mind that Miss Pain mean it, man. For all their delightful
oddity, in the heads of the Pains this is pop music, pure and simple.
Somewhere, these songs are chart-toppers, and the Pains rattle through
their alternate-universe hits with gleeful aplomb.
is a reductionist soap-opera set to the rattle of a beat box; and
surely no human being with an even slightly wayward soul could dislike
the crump and fizz of 'Endoscopy Blues' (the title alone does it
for me). By way of a big finish, the band launches into a pell-mell
version of Roxy Music's 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache', which
in turn mutates into a freeform rant as Sarah Pain, on vocals, exorcises
the demons of her teenage Bryan Ferry crush - a crush sadly diminished
these days by Ferry's metamorphosis into a recationary old buffer.
Oh, if only Bryan could be here to witness his ritual denunciation
over churning Eno-esque electronics. His Marks and Spencer suit
lapels would shrivel in shame. The song shudders to a halt amid
analogue anarchy, and as Miss Pain quit the stage I ponder the thought
that we've just seen pop music squished like plasticine into strangely
enticing new shapes.
Website | MySpace
Innercity Pirates: MySpace
Lesser Panda: Website
more photos from this gig,
find Miss Pain here.