Party For Your Right To Swim
It was another one of those ‘Shrub Rocketeer’ occasions. Saturday the 28th saw an afternoon/early evening gig (I approve) held at The Medicine Bar (I disapprove), as a benefit for The Friends Of Moseley Road Baths (I approve). The line-up consisted of Pram (who I already liked and were the main draw for me), Poppy & The Jezebels (I’d heard the name and distantly remembered reading good things about them) and Paperweight Industry (never heard of them in my life). I hold each and every one of you responsible for not informing me that Paperweight Industry are young and that P&TJ are very young.
Rewind, pull it back, start at the beginning, a very good place to start. I got there slightly early with the intention of having a pint or two on Digbeth High Street, but (not being a football fan) didn’t realise that Blues were playing at home (if you read that and thought I was talking about Chelsea then do me a quick favour and punch yourself in the face, ta). Naturally, all the pubs were rammed and I found myself heading into The Custard Factory to pay way over the odds for some really quite incredibly crappy lager in The Kitchen.
I observed the soundchecks, and saw Poppy & The Jezebels being filmed for the BBC. Did anyone happen to catch whatever they were on? When Paperweight Industry finally began to play (dull modern emo-rock with a silly American accent, nothing interesting) I found myself the only sensibly-aged person in a room of teenagers-or-younger and their parents, and the recipient of a few strange looks. “Hmmm,” thought I. “They probably think I’m bringing some freight back from Ebbw Vale” (one person in the world will get that, and he won’t be reading this). I repaired across the road to The Old Crown (now much emptier, with the match actually going on by this point) before the lynch mob formed.
A couple of pints later and I return, finding a greater spread of crowd and Poppy And The Jezebels just beginning their set. A bit of research this morning has taught me that there’s a lot of hype around them, but I couldn’t find much to like about them myself. I almost feel like I’m picking on them for saying this, but it was unimaginative indie-pop with the occasional slightly punkier bit, the occasional slightly glammier bit, Poly Styrene-esque deliberate flat singing, and very little to excite. Time is on their side, of course, with them all being about ten years old or whatever they are. I’m sure they’ll develop into something a bit more interesting eventually. Would it be more or less patronising to suggest that they’re about as good as a band of that age are probably likely to be? Dunno. (EDIT: It later dawned on me that P&TJ were the 666th different band I’ve seen live. What a waste of that particular honour…)
Blessings to Pram, then, for rescuing the whole affair with some actual interesting music. They play loosely/broadly Warp-style wibbly electronics with a faint (and hard to pin down) retro/60s feel. As a description that sounds very similar to Broadcast, which they sort of are and sort of aren’t (helpful, I realise). They are equally difficult to describe, as you may be beginning to imagine. All that they do is beautifully textured, anyway, with an interesting variety of instruments combining to form a seamless sweep of sound. ‘Floaty’ is an adjective that comes inescapably to mind, but not in a way that implies a lack of substance. Gorgeous.
To sum up: A good cause supported, one out of three bands any good, and a lynch mob avoided. It could have been a lot worse.