I have several excuses for the lateness of this review, all of which vary along the dog-ate-my-homework-scale. Chief amongst these is that I find reviewing shows at Start the Bus a bit problematic. The reasons for this are twofold: firstly the proximity of said club to a Wetherspoons, secondly their policy of putting on bands at 100 o’clock, thus allowing one’s brain to be full of cheap ales by the time the main band start. Last time I saw a show at StB was Extra Life back in June. Luckily this wasn’t for reviewing purposes as all I remember is a nagging sense of intangible shame (made somewhat tangible by Charlie Looker having told a friend at another show that Bristol was ok aside from the “asshole-superfans”).
So as per we arrived at the venue in the middle of sound checks and decided to head to teh spoons for some cheaper booze. By the time we got back we’d missed most of the opening band, whose name I didn’t catch (4 -track-goth hipster doofus Blank Dogs was billed, not sure what happened there). Due to the curious contours of the venue having placed a pillar in the middle of our view, they appeared to have a step ladder for a bassist. Despite sounding a bit Les Savy Fav now and again, and throwing some interesting shapes, the band were mostly indentikit opening indie band fare; like a less nekro Ocean Colour Scene. The singer either had really mild Tourrettes or was operating under the assumption that saying ‘Fuck’ every other word was either cool or funny, the fucking fuckspoon. At one point he informed the crowd that No Age would be selling mescaline at the side of the stage. Not sure if this was true but can I confirm that Wetherspoons were selling cheap ales, so back we went.
Brains properly lubricated, we returned to catch the start of Male Bonding’s set. One these chaps used to be in the rather spiffing Seafood, which makes it a double shame that these folks sounded like a less experimental Offspring. A song and a half and a snap judgement later we returned to Wetherspoons where we met some Indian Medical Students who told us they were prepared to play the Ridley Scott Card to get into Penarth. Presumably this would entail making a few classic films then churning out expensive toss for 25 years. How this would relate to entry into Penarth I don’t recall. I don’t live in Wales any more, maybe its different now. Fucking Cameron.
We returned in plenty of time for No Age, allowing for a decent view of the stage. No Age soon gave the first lot a lesson in effective cursing – “We’re fucking No Age from fucking California”. No Age are a terrific live band; their smooshed-out skategaze is far more affecting in a small sweaty space than on record. Most of “Everything In-between” got an airing and sounded jolly good, and mostly, as with “Common Heat”, far more pogo-inducing than the recorded versions. “Teen Creeps”, “Sleeper Hold” and “Eraser” from Nouns were bashed out with such enthusiasm it was like they wrote them 5 minutes ago. Waldo’s repeatedly shouted requests of “do that fucking one I know” were answered by them playing “Miner” as the last of several encores.
The guitar / drums duo were joined by a chap hidden to the left of the stage triggering samples and noise loops, filling out the sound considerably and answering any “how they gonna play that one live” questions I had. The crowd lapped it up in typical energetically-confused fashion. Bodies smashed around with surprising force. Two young girls were particularly notable, storming around the mincepit elbows first like Lay-Cool in a hipster child battle royale. You know you’re now old and/or a dick when you’re next to a girl at a gig thinking “I’d better make sure she doesn’t get hurt”, then the second the band starts she dives into you, almost breaking a glass in your eye.
Hoovers-on-ecstasy ambient sections bridged the shoepunk tracks, giving us respite from being beaten up by children. This was worth money.
L;nus & Muffinstuffer
(sponsored by Wetherspoons)