Saturday, 6 June 2009

Applicants / Wojtek Godzisz / A Genuine Freakshow at 229, 04 June 2009

Going down the steps into 229 is slightly odd, as it sometimes feels like going down into a public convenience. You feel that there ought to be a 20p turnstile at the bottom, but actually there are a couple of personable young people with a cash box and a hand stamp.

Upon entering, we find the first band already on stage. We creep by, as there are more of them than there are of us. Seven of them to be precise. A Genuine Freakshow are one of those multi-instrumental groups of all the talents that make you think that they are less a band and more an evening class that enjoyed jamming together and wanted to share the fun. In addition to the usual guitars and drums, they also find use for a cellist and trumpeter. The former adds depth to their sound, but tonight at least the latter is mostly inaudible.

The focus of the band is Tim Sutcliffe, who plays guitar and sings in a piercingly pure falsetto that is impressive, but hard to warm to. The songs vary between Sigur Ros style orchestral workouts to full on thrashing of the type that dullards like Mogwai and Spiritualised use to generate the illusion of excitement. A Genuine Freakshow seem pretty good at what they do, even though their brand of music is not really for me.

At this juncture I pop into the other venue within 229 to see if there is anything interesting on. Tonight’s entertainment is a fencing class. And that’s with epees rather than creosote. As I’m a bit wary of intruding amongst people who are actually armed, I stick to the room where the bands are playing.

A quick history lesson. Symposium were a much-touted band who operated in the late Nineties and were at one point poised to be a Next Big Thing. However, for some reason they rather stalled on the launch pad and never quite took off. They were Apollo One rather than Apollo Eleven. The band split into various components, the most important of which, Wojtek Godzisz, is here tonight with his current outfit.

Godzisz stands splay-legged centre stage and blasts out a succession of huge sounding sing-a-long power pop anthems. He’s big and ginger and hairy and having a good time. It ain’t subtle, and would be better suited to the main stage at a rock festival, but it certainly makes for an entertaining, if not overly demanding half hour. The songs are still here, the stage presence is fine, and it’s just the venues that have got smaller.

My ears are still feeling battered as the next band set up. I first saw Applicants at the turn of the year and was much taken with their combination of quirky pop songs and over the top stage antics. Tonight I’m just slightly less convinced.

Part of the problem tonight seems to be the sound mix, which renders most of the vocals inaudible. Many of the samples upon which the band relies fail to trigger properly. It’s all rather chaotic, and not in a controlled way. As if sensing that things are falling apart, singer/dancer/cheerleader Jeffrey overcompensates wildly.

Beaming like a Cheshire cat she bounces around the venue like a rubber ball, grabbing audience members and whirling them around. She is singing all the while, but it’s hard to hear her. Back on stage she pouts and crawls around, reathing and writhing and fainting in coils, as Louis Carroll had it. Suave front man Fidel Villeneuve plays his guitar with his teeth and makes occasional sorties off the stage, apparently forgetting that he can’t take his microphone stand with him.

However, even a misfiring Applicants are great fun, and things start to fall into place in the second half of their set. New song ‘When Porn Took Over The world’ sounds great, ‘History Has Been Kind To Spike Milligan’ remains a wonderful song and band and audience combine for a rousing bawl through the traditional set-closer ‘Evelyn Waugh’.

There is a fourth band tonight, but as a) they are called Megadudes, b) look like a bog standard rock act and c) are called Megadudes, sheesh. It seems a good time to bail out.

A varied evening that came good at the end.


Anonymous said...

Do not judge a book by its cover my friend, i saw the megadudes at the water rats and they were bloody awesome!

Anonymous said...

Woah!!! The Megadudes are AWESOME! You fucked up there!