A perfect un-summer’s evening greets the audience at The Brudenell tonight, most of whom gather regardless outside on picnic benches in the waning light to smoke or chatter throughout the first act of Yugoslavian Boys (or maybe that was just me; my apologies).
Upon entry to the gig room tonight, it would appear that The Brudenell has welcomed in the staff from one of those miscellaneously named ‘gadget’ shops only found in dwindling northern shopping centres. They are, in fact, promoting a certain brand of American lager that seemingly prides itself on having no calories (or taste), and it’s name on fluorescent t-shirts. However, most of the audience makes the wise choice to ignore the corporate fireflies and watch second act The Louche FC, who might look like the group equivalent of a Nissan Micra with different coloured doors (something not unfamiliar to those living in Hyde Park), but have a well-oiled rhythmic motor ticking away under their hood. They play a gaggle of smoothed-out, haunting pop songs lead by the floating harmonies of singer Kyoko Rathmell, who successfully reaches for something special above the ever present reverb and white-noise. On songs such as (I Cannot Be) Much More Than This, Rathmell’s voice has whisperings of Kirsty Maccoll, and she twines it perfectly around her band mates’ pounding and chiming. The band’s quasi-shoegaze blast of echoing pop with it’s focus on melody driven vocals is the perfect warm up tonight, and in response one crowd member sends out a unified sentiment with a loud shout of ‘You guys are awesome’ in the silence between songs.
After the promising Mancunians are finished, Vivian Girls stroll somewhat sheepishly up on stage to form their guitar, bass, drums trident. The group take a little while to find their groove, playing slower songs such as Take It as It Comes and Vanishing of Time from their newest release ‘Share the Joy’ with a surprising apprehension for such a well-established and gigged band. It’s not obvious whether they’re trying to be intentionally cute and coy as a stage act, or are genuinely nervous handling the relatively fresh material, but once they slam the accelerator into older, noisier material such as The End from 2009’s ‘Everything Goes Wrong’ they are clearly more comfortable and sound better for it. With the ride cymbal almost beaten off it’s stand and the sweet vocal attack of guitarist Cassie Ramone, it’s the fastest songs that seem to translate best live. Survival twists clean female vocals together with choppy, power-saw guitar chord changes that are more than reminiscent of the most speed-fuelled Husker Du releases. The band seem to realise this as well and bass player Kickball Katy even laughs that ‘We’ve played too many fast ones tonight’, before launching into I Have No Fun anyway as an enjoyable race towards the encore.
Fingers crossed, their recent third release shows that they’ll continue to play fun, danceable shows and write their honest brand of twee punk for a while to come.