Last minute listing for a gig that fell victim to the closure of Cardiff Barfly; despite local efforts, the bidding war was won by Start The Bus and so there’s no Welsh debut for any of the three bands making up this spankingly good bill.
NO AGE arrive in Bristol toting second album proper Everything In Between, to these ears a huge step forward even given the quality of Nouns. On record they’ve worked from the start to leaven the ferocity of their ace former band Wives with sections, or whole songs, teased out at slower tempos; the dreamy, spooky pop and synthy overtones were more focused on the recent Losing Feeling EP and that’s been retained. Live, though, the whipcrack pace is largely maintained, a sense of beery bonhomie intact as the two-minute Wipers/Huskers noise-pop gems race by. Adding a keyboard player on recent dates may have allowed a splash more texture, but we can still expect plenty of nuggety joy from a band hitting the top of their game without making either wholesale changes (Hi, Abe Vigoda!) or a noticeably conscious effort.
Sub Pop labelmates MALE BONDING again miss Cardiff, having slipped off the Surfer Blood support slot in May. It’s our loss. You’d be forgiven for a little mistrust of the London trio’s studied lo-fi pose and eagerness to trace around well-worn indie-punk templates – Dinosaur Jr, early Nirvana and indeed No Age for starters – except that they do it really well. Their concurrent membership of arty noise outift PRE serves as a bit of a red herring; bassist Kevin Hendrick’s less often noted past in Brit-grungers Seafood in practice gives clearer notice of the unneringly catchy pop smeared all over debut album Nothing Hurts. Much like Lovvers, albeit with less slurring and self-conscious attitude, there’s a great noisy pop band here and a perfect compliment to No Age.
Opening the Bristol gig, having (I think) been shifted from another local booking, is super-prolific New Jersey mystery man Mike Sniper, AKA Blank Dogs. Through a blizzard of releases for his own Captured Tracks label and other reliable indie names (Woodsist, In The Red, Troubleman), Sniper blurs the edges between the lo-fi, C86/shoegaze revivalism of Crystal Stilts or Vivian Girls, a darker, Factory-era gloom reminiscent of the Cure or Joy Division and the particular feverish hysteria of fellow bedroom shut-ins Ariel Pink or Zola Jesus. Flipping the Brits-do-US trick of Male Bonding, Sniper stares back across the pond, and two decades, with whirring post-punk tape/drum machine rhythms and affecting Robert Smith vocals. Make it there early to see whether he faces the crowd.
Start The Bus, 7-9 Baldwin Street, Bristol BS1 1RU
8pm – midnight
£12.00 from www.bristolticketshop.co.uk
In 2008, No Age became one of the most unexpected success-stories of the musical year. The Los Angelino duo wield a short, sharp, sometimes painful, post-hardcore take on indie-rock. Showing hints of acts like Sonic Youth and Liars, their noisy, experimental, lo-fidelity racket has found a rapidly-growing audience; No Age achieving popularity in spite of their most not-populist ambitions. Male Bonding are firmly ensconced in current scene du jour, DIY/lo-fi. The Noise-pop trio play fast, speeding through their songs. Support comes from the amazing Blank Dogs.