I haven’t been to the Electric ballroom for some time and it is one of my favourites, partly because you can get a good view of the stage from the bar, beer is reasonably priced for a London venue, and it’s not too big. For those that know it there is also a very precarious step that joins the entrance to the circular bar area and as always there were a serious number of trips and mis steps, as well as at least two proper falls that I saw whilst I was waiting for drinks.
This evening was pretty hyped and something of a celebration for the meteoric ‘ish rise of South London Band Shame. Still in current tour mode they are already selling for a bigger tour in November such is the optimism. And I think it felt like the band was also in party mood (maybe not sure how they have got to where they are so quickly).
They play with maturity and have worked on the basic song structures filling them with more intricate guitar work and the power that comes form constant honing of ones craft through repetition and practice. A recent article in the Guardian suggests that they are very derivative
But as I have discussed before how do you have an original thought in this day and age. They remind me of some ways of Maccabees or Foals in terms of musicality and “HardFi “for laddish anthemic attitude (my wife disagrees with this statement). The former could be a geographical/cultural connection maybe. Comparisons to Gang of Four in some areas but I don’t see that in any great measure.
They pretty much came saw and conquered with a slick professional performance. And here is my own prejudice creeping in now. They are on their way to bigger things and hopefully not, to middle of the road indie. They are still young and angry, and were musically slightly awkward, which is always the appeal to the musical snobs amongst us who want to keep these bands as our own guilty secret. They are probably on target to be the biggest of the generation of South London Bands that have emerged from the Queens Head and Windmill scene.
With reference to guilty little secrets the next generation coming through could be epitomised by one of the support acts “Black Midi”. Boringly spawned from the South London band factory they have that element of difference which makes you want to listen and ponder, “is this my next favourite band”. Only a few months old they have untitled songs and play meandering songs which have two or three changes of pace, tending to build up to multi layered hypnotic finales, which belie their tender ages. Their sound has been described as “whittling sparse piles of breeze-blocks into mysterious cranky moments” (Misfit City).piles of breeze-blocks into mysterious cranky monuments” – Misfit City
There are also elements of post-punk and enough attitude to allay the prog rock labelling that might be in peoples minds. Definitely one to watch and I will be seeking them out again to get another perspective in a different (most likely smaller) venue( Tehey are still playing regularly at the Windmill in Brixton.
There was also a second support provided by German riot grrl’s “Gurr”. Compared to the heaviness and I guess Britishness of the other bands on show this girl fronted band was quite poppy and lightweight. I would say they are similar to “Bleached” in terms of catchy melodies, a bit of feminist posturing along the way but mainly enjoying themselves . My take on why they are on the tour is that they are record label stable mates with “Shame”. They were entertaining but don’t have that stand out quality, which is needed, in a very competitive market these days.
Overall it was a good evening where my faith in current musical offerings was rewarded by three good bands. The “Shame” boys are one of Steve Lamacq’s current faves (he was apparently in attendance) along with “Cabbage” and “Idles”. The “Idles” are on my current hit list but are selling out fast so see them before they make the cross-over into the big time. I can feel my FOMO rising again. Just too many bands, too little time.