Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Molotovs, Koko Von Napoo, Pop Martyr, ARCs at The Fly, 23 October 2009

Koko Von Napoo by Marco

I’m here at The Fly, which is always a confusing venue. The downstairs area where the bands play is bigger than the upstairs bit which is on open view to passers by at street level. This means that on evenings when the place is operating at less than full capacity that a casual observer would be forgiven for thinking that the whole place is completely empty and socially lifeless, when in fact there is vibrant activity down below. They can’t get much casual custom on such occasions.

Down below ARCS are in full cry. They play a loud, dynamic, fairly tuneful brand of rock and their fans are lapping it up. They look to be experienced musicians and are pretty enjoyable. I find them rather hit and miss, but several of my friends really like them and make noises about wanting to see them again.

Next up come Pop Martyr, who are rather akin to a jolly mariachi band. Trumpets are much to the fore. I respect their musicianship, but they do nothing at all for me and I temporarily retreat upstairs.

Following on come the band we are here to see, the exotically named Koko Von Napoo from France (via Brighton). The focus is the delightfully deadpan singer Toupie, who sings and scowls, having fun but careful not to appear too uncool.

The band plays a catchy brand of electro pop which goes down well with the crowd without ever quite reaching “hands in the air like you just don’t care” levels of excitement. There is some banter amongst the band when Toupie accidentally introduces the third song of the evening as being their last, with the drummer jokingly wondering if they are about to split up.

Koko Von Napoo are very endearing but don’t quite have that je ne sais quois, as they almost certainly don’t say in France.

The venue is pretty full now for The Molotovs, who have spent the year gathering fans like a snowball rolling down hill. They are starting to have the air of real contenders for mainstream recognition.

It helps that they sound like a jumble of any number of successful acts while incorporating their own unique elements. So while singer Will’s voice evokes bands such as Starsailor or Keane, the furious violin and trumpet work of Ed Jenkins propel things along at a much faster pace than those balladeers. Indeed, it is this surging confidence and attack which is the main difference between The Molotovs of a year ago and the new improved model.

I’ve had a long day, and I’m feeling a bit ropey, so I have to cut the band short to head off home.

If The Molotovs continue on their current trajectory, they’ll be on the radio when I get there.

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