Sunday, October 19, 2008

Times New Viking, No Age & Los Campesinos!, Glasgow Art School, 18th October

Damn, I really meant to do some Times New Viking listening in the week leading up to this, somehow didn’t. And double damn, the whole gig has been shifted forward by an hour and a half, so I have to run all the way from the bus station to catch the second half of their set. Perhaps this wasn’t meant to be, but listening to Rip It Off this morning they do sound like one amazing live band. It was worse for Chris, who stood on the steps outside in a snail-paced queue listening to them rattle off ‘their six best songs’ though several solid stone walls, fuming. Once we got inside, the pace of the set slowed a little, songs stretched out beyond the three minute mark, and it was all good stuff, fuzzy, frantic, plus American and no-nonsense (there’s something great about the way certain Americans can rock as casually as if they were walking to the fridge in their dressing gowns for some milk), but it would have been good to see the poppier end of the set too. Another time, hopefully. The singer / drummer had a Sic Alps T-shirt on, which seemed like a good thing.

No Age’s set didn’t have a poppier end, but let me tell you what it did have. A (nother) singing drummer who sounded like he came from the same street as Daniel Johnston, a deeply southern accent and even some similar tunes (as one song finished I could have sworn it was a cover of ‘Why / Without You’, but it was over too fast to really tell). A guitarist who looked rather like Chris O’Dowd from The IT Crowd, which is to say, more than slightly out of it, with curly hair. He could not understand a single heckle. Their songs had mellow, effect-laden intros but went pleasingly mental as soon as the drums came in. For the final song the drummer came to the front of the stage to sing, the guitarist swapped his semi-acoustic for an SG, started up with a metronomic delay / loop thing, which he left running as he clambered to the top of a speaker stack. He sorted out his pose, wobbling a bit, whilst the drummer returned to his drums and prepared for even more mental-ness. Which duly exploded, and was so fabulous that the guitarist was inspired to wedge his SG into the lighting rig (à la Kawabata Mokoto at Stereo last year), where he left it as he climbed down to stage level again. Unlike Kawabata, this fellow left the guitar plugged in, and, not really having thought it all through, attempted to remove the lead by giving it a good yank. Bringing the guitar crashing down, and nearly killing several of the front row, had they not moved back pretty swiftly. He came over to apologise, like it had been a total surprise that the guitar had fallen when he pulled at it. There was a stunned silence. Still, no-one was actually hurt, and it did prove I suppose that No Age really are as stupendously dumb as their sound leads you to hope they might be. Which is great for indie rock, but if you go and see them, do stand back a bit.

The headliners were Los Campesinos!, which I was cautiously looking forward to, having heard a few singles and quite liked them before they got annoying and had to be deleted. Their dreadful cover of ‘C is the Heavenly Option’ was the point at which I gave up, but I didn’t mind their own songs so much, and imagined that they might be the kind of thing better enjoyed live. But sadly not. ‘They’ve got a publicist,’ muttered Chris darkly, as they lined up on stage, about a hundred of them, the male singer in a red hooded top, the female one with woollen orange leggings on her arms. They made a pathetically ‘big’ noise, with the total opposite of the American bands’ insouciance: they meant it, they were going to sing their little hearts fit to burst to deliver their message that indie pop is where it’s at. But hang on, Los Campesinos!, where do you think you are? You’re preaching to the converted, and you aren’t doing it nearly well enough. I’ve nothing against ultra-reverential / referential Welsh pop, but these guys should really leave it to Helen Love. If you’re going to sing about being excited by pop music, you’d better make sure the songs you sing are the equal of the ones you’re singing about (this is why ‘Does Your Heart Go Boom’ is the most ambitious pop song ever – not quite better than ‘Baby I Love You’, but closer than is reasonable). Doing COMPRESSED TO THE MAX thumping and whacking a xylophone over the top is not the same thing. But what really annoyed me was that they dedicated a song to Kenickie, ‘to mark the tenth anniversary of them splitting up.’ Just... don’t, OK? You are not in the same league, you are not even playing the same game. Having left it rather longer than we should have, we walked.

As for Kenickie, remember them this way.

9 comments:

brogues said...

Glad you enjoyed No Age. You're so right...they were pleasingly mental! I enjoyed them even more this time than at Optimo in May. The little I saw of TNV was crisper than at The Captain's Rest a few months back. Shame LC! weren't on first...I'd've happily missed their mince set. You're right about "Does Your Heart Go Boom", too. It sounded amazing at last week's Half My Heart Beats at The Flying Duck...

Chris said...

I wonder how those three got teamed up, it seems an odd combination.

So - there are discos where people actually play Helen Love records? I live in entirely the wrong city...

horsemeatpie said...

What a dreadful collection of people Los Campesinos must be. They were absolutely awful. And that's coming from a man who doesn't even believe in absolutes.

Turns out Swells tried to have them deported from the US:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2008/apr/30/wanttotouramericapleasefi

Which is less disagreeable than his take on the Pastels. The most offensive aspect of LC was, I thought, the blatant careerism, rather than any tweeness.

No Age were S-T-O-O-P-I-D. And I can't give praise any higher than that.

Chris said...

You were right, then - they do have a publicist!

To remind yourself why Swells was always rubbish and ET always great, compare and contrast with this.

brogues said...

I saw Helen Love at Tut's years ago: 14 songs in 16 minutes or so. Amazingly, I didn't feel short-changed. Now that's impressive! If you fancy getting on the Goodfoot at Half My Heart Beats or You+Me etc. you're more than welcome to kip at mine. It's not a palace but at least you wouldn't have to get the last bus or chooch...

brogues said...

I could slap Los Campesinos! for proving 1 of my incontrovertible rules of pop wrong. It turns out that not every tune is improved by a glockenspiel after all. Swine the lot of 'em!

Chris said...

Glockenspiel - that's what I meant. Xylophones are wooden, aren't they?

> I saw Helen Love at Tut's years ago

I am more jealous than you would believe about that. Might have to take you up on the offer - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Swells / Seething Wells / Steven Wells was a fairly vile writer. I'm sure he was really a former Etonian with bedwetting issues. Always seemed to dig dodgy political bands with a nice line in dogma and self-righteousness.

And what's with the extra l?

It's Talulah Gosh.

Having said that, I'd rather read Wells than any of the crap that passes for writing in the NME these days.

Ah well, it's time for bed!

A.

Chris said...

I hadn't noticed that, A. - not only is Swells a wholly inadequate rock writer, he also can't spell.

Did you know George Bernard Shaw spelt Shakespeare 'Shakespear'? Maybe Shakespear's Sister were more literate than they let on...

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