Wednesday, 14 May 2008

A Place To Bury Strangers / The Tamborines / The Pity Party

Tamborines pic by Bob Stuart

This is my first time at The Social, which is not so much a venue as a 60’s night club set in a stairwell between two office buildings. It is so narrow that it is almost impossible for two people to stand side by side without one of them rubbing against a wall. I like it.

Tonight’s gig is brought to us by the good people of Sonic Cathedral, London’s premier purveyors of droney, distorty, feedback strewn melodies. The DJ’s are very hairy, very serious and play the kind of music that soundtracks forty year old Italian science fiction films. I like this too.

The first act on are The Pity Party, who have come all the way from Los Angeles to be here. Consisting of a red headed gal on drums and a skinny guy soloing on guitar, they are so raw and uncertain that I mistakenly assume that this is one of their first ever gigs. And that all they need is practice. Shows what I know.

The Tamborines are more familiar – in more ways than one. Stalwarts of the London circuit, on their day they can be a match for anyone, with the keys and original line-up My Bloody Valentine bowl-cut fringe of Lulu Grave and the guitars and singing of Henrique. Unfortunately, this is not their day. They are bedevilled by sound problems of the worst order and have to halt their set several times to coax life from recalcitrant equipment.

The other familiar aspect of the Tamborines is their songs. They have a blindingly good tune called ‘Sally O’Gannon’. At least three of their other songs sound so like it that it is if it is on repeat.

At the end of a troublesome set, Henrique throws down his guitar and flounces off. They’ll have better nights.

The headliners tonight are A Place To Bury Strangers, often touted as the loudest band in New York. This epithet is a blessing and a curse – they thrash about and make a big racket, but there isn’t much in the way of strong material behind the noise.

However, the crowd stand in pairs down the front and roar approval as though this feedback thing is a new concept. In other circumstances, I might have enjoyed them more, but it’s late and they seem to epitomise the emperor’s new clothes.

I still like the venue.

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