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.