2005-08-20 : Les gloves est off.
Normally I tend to pussyfoot about on this thing in order not to upset people and/or companies, but right now I'm pointing fingers. Last night I saw the shittest band I've ever seen.
A bunch of us went to Barfly last night (after a pretty groovy meal and some choice Belgian beers at Belgo) to see an Australian band that Paul's mate Paul had recommended – The Grates. The thing about Barfly is it's a cool little venue which features new and up & coming talent (their website will point out that Stereophonics, Feeder, Coldplay, Muse, The Strokes, The Vines, etc. etc. all cut their teeth in there at some point), and any opportunity for live acts to develop and get exposure's a good one – I absolutely believe that ! However I was certainly at odds with what seemed to be venue policy – i.e. disguise lack of talent with incresed volume. Forget “if it's too loud, you're too old”. This was definitely “If it's too loud, it's probably because they're too shit to listen to”.
Backtracking a bit, The Grates weren't too bad. Not exactly my thing – I've got to say I'm more at ease with epic prog rock guitar wank solos or classical gradual thematic developments than repetetive monotonal guitar riffs favoured by indie bands… the kind where the guitarist stabs out the same one-note line 4 times before the drums & singer kick in which sort of feels like them declaring to the crowd “OK, this is the one that goes dadadada da dada da da da” and possibly with the musical corrolary “it's one of our older ones – only real fans will know it”.
But anyway, back to The Grates. Like I said, I didn't mind them too much – the singer certainly had an infectious sense of energy about her, and if she hadn't tried to engage the audience in topical banter between songs I'd have quite liked her.
The memorable parts were what happened next – the second “band” seemed to be these 2 idiots in matching stripey polo shirts and a DJ somewhere in the room. The 2 idiots decided to forego a stage performance in favour of stalking around on the floor in the small and already cramped venue; the net effect of which being that nobody could see them. I can't relly describe what they were doing, because I'm not entirely sure what it was. At one point they announced “This is our 2nd to last song”, which caught me offguard, because I wasn't aware they'd started. It wasn't quite rap – that I *get*. This was more some unseen DJ doing odd shit with records, and these 2 idiots walking around in an overly self aggrandised fashion and occasionally shouting something indecipherable into a mic.
But the management had really saved the worst for last – a band called Queens of Noise (might've been spelt “Noize”. Don't know, don't care.). Through the magic of Nokia camera phones I managed to get a grainy low-quality poorly contrasted photo.
At this point you can tell I'm more passionate about denouncing the quality of camera phone pictures than about actually describing this band. They were just THAT GOOD. The lead singer kept gesturing to the mixing bloke to wind her mic up a bit louder, however it was difficult because he already seemed to have everything cranked up to eleven to begin with. There's a point where it just becomes painful and irritating to share a room with, which is why Lisa and I decided to leave part way through the 2nd or 3rd song. I'm led to believe they didn't improve.
So anyway, that was my first trip to Barfly. I think I'll stick with stuff I know I like, or at least I know won't suck. Am off to see Medeski, Martin & Wood at the Jazz Cafe in a couple of weeks. Can't wait.