Sunday 14 September 2014

Tweens, Desperate Journalist and Relics at Madame Jo Jo's - 09 September 2014


When I bounce into Madame Jo Jo’s I’m initially surprised. There is literally no one here who isn’t working at the venue. I’m unfashionably early.

There are four acts tonight, so I don’t have to wait long for entertainment. And as soon as Relics hit their first note I’m glad to be in the mosh pit in front of the stage. I try to be cool and elusive but I’m fairly easy to spot. I can’t hide behind myself.

Relics are a band that would vulgarly be described as ‘shoegaze’. It’s a misnomer because these guys motor so fast that they shoes they gaze at are affixed to Usain Bolt.

I’m not even joking. Relics take every song like the last five minutes of a Ride set. Tumultuous waves of crashing guitar and much general thrashing about.  They have no speed lower than absolutely full tilt.

This velocity sometimes works against the band, in the sense that sometimes I wish they would take the time to expand or explore a particular riff or sound. But Relics have their own style and they stick to it at 100mph.

The guitar sound is frankly ridiculous and Theo Alexander’s vocals are lost behind them. It’s always the same with such bands- My Bloody Valentine’s vocals always sounded like a wet fart in a hurricane.

I enjoy Relics a lot – there’s no sleeping on their watch.

I had previously seen Desperate Journalist at this year’s ill-fated Camden Crawl. At that time, you could tell the band had something about them, but the sound on the night was so poor that they couldn't really do themselves justice.

This is not the case this evening. First off, I really like the band even when they take a little while to get into their stride.

My initial difficulty is with their guitar sound. It’s a sludge. Deliberately so. On the positive side, singer Jo Bevan is just terrific. She’s as powerful as a Saturn V and as steely strong.

The Guardian warns me that I am not allowed to use the term ‘fierce’, but Bevan is the rock and the focal point of this band. I could out the band’s music as being Goth, but there are just as many musical similarities to acts like The Smiths. But such descriptors are misleading. Desperate Journalist are very much their own beast and they improve with each successive song.

They have brought their own coterie of fans along with them. These folks are so familiar with the band that they don’t have to do anything so uncouth as actually stand and watch them. Instead, there is a lot of fairly irritating horseplay.  

A minor inconvenience and I'm pleased that my instincts are correct – Desperate Journalist are the real deal.

I’m particularly keen to see Cincinnati’s Tweens. I had heard good things and they don’t disappoint.

Tweens are a blistering three piece ‘trash pop’ (their description) band featuring the talents of Bridget Battle, Jerri Queen and Peyton Copes.

Battle immediately impresses. For almost the entire set her head is a blur, a screaming explosion of blonde hair. She shreds a mean guitar too, wringing out solos and laughing with Jerri and Peyton.

Tweens are an almost literal blast of a band, a dynamic fusion of sass and pure raucous rock and roll energy. This band are so far up my street that they are practically in my living room. Their self-titled album has now taken residence there.

A wonderful night of guitar rock. Well done all. I am allowed to say that.


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