Thursday, 1 October 2009

teenagersintokyo / Still Corners at Water Rats 30 September 2009


It may have been the usual mild/wet/disappointing summer, but on the Gray’s Inn Road conditions have obviously been more tropical. Tonight I’m in the Water Rats and it is as hot as the jungles of Borneo in here.

This leads to a bizarre beginning to the evening in which the slightly cooler bar of the venue is full of people while the doors to the performance area are wide open and there is not a living soul inside. Eventually a band comes on stage and finds themselves confronted with a completely empty room. However, once they start playing, the audience files in.

The band in question is Still Corners and they are rather wonderful. They are fronted by the striking Olivia, who stares straight ahead, gently swaying to the slow syncopation of the rest of the band. Her wispy, echoing vocals sigh like a summer breeze, almost indistinct but enough to raise the hairs on your neck.

The obvious comparison would be with the off-kilter and creepy nightclub music of David Lynch collaborator Julee Cruise. There is a sense of theatre, of mystery, of lush decadence.

The other band members are mostly undemonstrative, but work themselves into a quiet storm on the closing numbers. The hot-house atmosphere works in their favour, as they seem icily cool even as everything around them melts.

As Still Corners finish the room empties again, with the crowd dispersing in search of oxygen. I take the opportunity to purchase the band’s mini-album ‘Forget Pepper’.

The main act of the night is Teenagersintokyo, an Australian outfit last seen by me a just over a year ago. They are now temporarily resident in London, recording and touring.

Since last time I saw them the band have evolved and smoothed out many of the rough edges from their early performances. In particular, singer Samantha Lim is glamoured up in an off the shoulder sheath and eyelashes that are several inches long. She looks sultry and stunning, and knows it.

The rest of the band have taken the opportunity to dress up too, in a variety of Eighties-style themes that range from Olivia Newton John ‘Let’s Get Physical’ gym wear to Sheena Easton geometric haircuts. The lone guy in the band, drummer Rudy, wears a head band but is otherwise content to leave the girls to draw the eye.

It takes a long time for the band to make much of an impression. Many of their songs are routine dance/club numbers which you can tell are going to be much better on record once they have been tweaked and remixed. As it is they are good but fall short of being great. That said, new single 'Isabella' is just peachy.

It doesn’t help that there are a sizeable number of wankers in the crowd who seem to be only here to jabber and shout to each other all the way through the band. From the accents you get the impression that they are hangers on who don’t actually give a damn about the performance.

It is said that men sweat but women glow. Before the end Lim is glowing like a 100 Watt light bulb. She grabs a drumstick for the final number and leads the whole band in a percussive work out. Guitars and keyboards are abandoned as everyone grabs a stick and beats on bells and bottles. This is when teenagersintokyo come into their own and properly loosen up. It’s a great finish but I could have done with more of this spontaneity and a little less of the rather anodyne disco tracks that preceded it.

However, this is a relatively minor quibble. A band with an approval rating of say, seven out of ten, is well worth going to see. Kudos too for Still Corners, who I shall certainly endeavour to seek out again.

1 comment:

Fashionable Earth said...

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