Bombay Bicycle Club with Flashguns and Dutch Uncles
Waiting for Dutch Uncles to take the stage, I was reassured by the number of pedals on the floor. My music teacher at school once told me ‘pedals do not musical development make’, but without knowing what to expect I was at least hoping for some wild sounds. These were duly delivered in an energetic performance. The highlights were single ‘Face In’, and a new unnamed tune that was the penultimate of their set. Tech problems curtailed the last song, but those present in the crowd cheered their efforts nonetheless.
Next up was Flashguns. Looking at this young band, I really wanted to like them. Their opener was confident and quirky in a kind of ‘indie band has-listened-to Sonic Youth’ kind of way, but it quickly became apparent that this was their only trick. Their strongest song was the irritatingly-named ‘I Don’t Not Love You’, which was let down by lazy attention to guitar tone and over-reliance on a delay pedal (see the advice of my music teacher above). Throwing himself around the stage and playing solos on the floor their singer-guitarist had the rock star attitude, but not the songs to match. Before their last number he told the crowd he was considering packing in the band and going to University. If I could give him one good piece of advice…
Finally, the band of the moment came on. It is a testament to their talent that two days ago, I couldn’t name a single one of their songs, but that tonight my buzz is adding to the sense of excitement in the packed room. Opening with new single ‘Magnet’, Bombay Bicycle Club had the crowd moshing by the end of the first chorus, and the sing-along quality of much of the new album was quickly established by the enthusiastic (and rather drunk) audience. Before the song was over, I’d already been hit by the spray from two thrown pints and had a crowd surfer pass overhead. Awesome. They followed this with ‘Lamplight’, their homage to My Bloody Valentine shoegazing, and the furthest they get from their Strokes indie rock roots. A couple of songs later came singles ‘Dust on the Ground’, and ‘Always Like This’, their strongest performance of the night. With each single came a fresh wave of crowd surfers, the sole bouncer by the stage rather comically assisting the struggling teens over the barrier. The crowd were laughing and the band was smiling, so it was refreshing that before they outstayed their welcome they announced their last song in ‘Cancel On Me’. After much frenzied chanting and clapping, the Club took the stage again for a brief encore- a fan- pleasing early EP song and then (surprisingly) album track ‘The Hill’.
Their attitude towards the music and live presence had me in mind of the Radiohead performance showcased in the old ‘Live at the Astoria’ video. Nobody back in 1993 could have predicted what those youngsters would go on to, and looking at them today, there is perhaps just an outside chance that a couple of risks taken could lead Bombay Bicycle Club up that path to greatness as well.