Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Concert Review: Art Brut, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA, October 16, 2009

I'd initially written off Art Brut for their bedsit preciousness but was finally starting to embrace them for embodying the spirit of late '70s/early '80s British punk, the inept rather than the angry strain. My interest was rewarded by their energetic performance at the Middle East last Friday. What they lack in technical competence they more than make up for in enthusiasm and bravado. Their absolute commitment to the material and the performance outweighed any bum notes.

In nod to the show's location, they opened with a cover the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner," and kept on running. These are no poets, and their songs were very literal with a focus on the mundane, an everyday existence that includes love of music and comics. Both the subject matter and the style of the backing vocals was reminiscent of the Undertones. Had they done a straight cover of "Mars Bars," those unfamiliar with the original would easily assume it was their own next to songs like "D.C. Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes."

Freddy Feedback's bass lines gave a nod to the Fall, although Eddie Argos's voice suggested sinus infection rather than dentist's drill, as does Fall frontman Mark E. Smith's. It was an exuberant rhythm section. Mikey Breyer played his drum set standing up because he appeared too excited to ever sit down. Feedback looked like she'd developed muscle tone in her cheeks from grinning so much at the shear delight in playing in her band.

They already have their own version of "Hey, Ho, Let's Go!" in "Art Brut. Top of the Pops," which the crowd started chanting until the band returned for an encore. They obliged with "Slap Dash for No Cash," in which they self-referentially praised their own brand of ramshackle rock and roll and made a convincing argument for its value.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Get Rid of Your Stupid Band Name

A word of advice to up-and-coming bands. If your group aspires to anything greater than being a means to picking up girls at frat parties, change your stupid band name. How can you tell if your band name is stupid? If it includes reference to a living person, particularly a celebrity, it's stupid. Yes, I'm talking to you, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head and the House that Gloria Vanderbilt. If it contains words that are likely to be blocked by the most rudimentary internet filters, it's stupid. Yes, I'm talking to you, Fuck Buttons. If you are overly amused by its novelty value, it's stupid. There have been plenty of bands through the years called Free Beer, and you see how far they've all gotten. If you're convinced that changing your stupid band name will make you lose your following, you are stupider than your band name and don't have much of a following to squander.