(Photos by the ever-brilliant Simon Ayre)
Post-Andy Gray and Richard Keys it feels weird to be staring at someone’s tits for such a long time. Kind of unavoidable tonight though: Drains singer Dan Barnett spends the gig wearing not much apart from jeans and a moustache that makes him look like he’s been drinking a poo milkshake, and foils any plan you have of trying to work out exactly what lyric he has tattooed on his chest by diving into your personal space every 30 seconds. It’s grunge that Drains cough up, great party grunge that’s raw, flippant and hacked back to the essentials. Knowledge of their other bands (Jim and Ben from Kutosis, Dan from Samoans, amongst others) will give you a pretty accurate ballpark of where they’re at musically – and Jimmy’s fuzzed up bass riffing has become a brilliant signature sound – but it’s as balls out, bar diving, sweaty torso wandering spectacle that they’re perfect Friday night entertainment. They also have a song called ‘Gunrack’, which nabs the best bit from Wayne’s World as it’s verse (“I don’t even have a gun, let alone the many guns it would take to necessitate an entire rack”) and this automatically gets them five big gold fucking stars.
To the Buffalo, with Simon Ayre and his forthright opinions, and the last few minutes of Ratatosk‘s set. What initially sounds weak and lost from the middle of a half empty venue flips almost imperceptibly into a spooky wash of multi-tracked vocals and Spanish guitar. That’s ‘The Dismal Science’, and it’s some kind of magic. Benni Hemm Hemm perform similar sensible-shirts-into-gold tricks, yer man Benni taking to the stage looking an undertaker’s son with a kids’ guitar. Incredibly hard to describe this music without mentioning the geographical origins of much of the band: even shorn of the Icelandic accent, the songs would still call up images of wintry snowscapes, barren mountains, glowering lava and £8 pints (that may just be Buffalo though). Even with half the songs studded with bass/drums/brass flourishes it’s still weirdly quiet waters that BHH navigate – fragile and vaguely mysterious tunes that feel half murder ballad, half hushed attempt to contact the dead. Even a quicktime jaunty number feels sad, still, reserved. Even still, even still… The question is: do these songs take you from your bill worries, your failed plans, do they lift you, are they beautiful? Yeah, they’re beautiful.
Then we go to Metros.