It is Cardiff based many-legged Silver Gospel Runners‘ duty to warm up each square inch of the stage early on, with sprightly jangle pop that lifts from familiar indiepop formula (boy/girl vox + glockenspiel + whimsy + trumpet…) but played with plently of spirit and promise. It’s cool to see that floor space in the Buffalo Bar is fairly minimal for a damp Tuesday, even after discounting the 80% of onlookers who will be taking to the stage tonight.
Spencer McGarry Season, having curbed his self-proclaimed ‘basic rock’ era now takes the form of a mini-orchestra, inviting flute, strings, trumpet and backing vocals to perform Episode Two. It’s part Smile suite, part foaming at the mouth superwide grinning Bugsy Malone showtune showcase. There is definitely something crazed / feverish about it, being honest, it’s FUCKING DEMENTED. No exaggeration – looking at faces in the crowd there is an even split of slack-jawed WTF (ahhh prophetic neon signage) or massive beaming grin. There’s no denying it’s a little exhausting, but it’s a work of genius.
If Californian softpoppers The Aislers Set, Love Is All or Ladybug Transister mean anything to you, then (despite you almost definitely being in this room on this night) you probably still weren’t fully prepared for the ska-lite of their combined effort Still Flyin’. There are eight of them, in a 1-5-2 formation, fronted by a cuddly XXL Lee Hazlewood on monsterglock and Malkmusian all-American slacker on chief-vox, “ARE WE HAVING FUN TONIGHT???!!” – only embarassed laughter and a smashed glass at the back of the room can sooth this awkward pause.
An extended play of time’s most enduring filler jam Surfin’ Bird breaks up a set of songs that pretty much all sound like Paul Simon overegging Mother & Child Reunion FOR ETERNITY. Off stage, out on the wing a brow-beaten bass player pulls off the full-Foley straddling two chairs, and gets so flustered at a between song request by his frontman for ‘a bit of Seinfeld slap bass’ he spasms and tumbles to the ground (for the second time in the evening). It’s a party band. Banter is of genuine high-quality and detracts from the fact things never really peak much higher than sort-of fun, though I suspect they have enjoyed themselves several times more than all tonight’s gawpers combined.