Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster/My Red Cell/Chikinki : London Islington Carling Academy

Cupid might not have been on the guest-list tonight...

Today being Valentine's Day, NME's mission differs from normal. There will be none of the usual standing by the bar talking all the way through the bands. Tonight I am on a quest. A quest for love. Or failing that a grubby shag. Sadly, though, rather than, say, schmoozing at the Met Bar I am required to put it about with the ladies like a desperate fool at the skronkiest triple bill of the Awards shows. So will Cupid strike? Will love blossom? Who cares?

First up is Chikinki, whose groovy fusion of Bristolian funk-synth-rock tunes like ‘Assassinator 13' and 'Hate TV' make them a dancing-canine of an underdog. Lucy from London looks like she's enjoying them. Sadly, though, my fantastic chat-up line ("do you like Busted too?") fails to impress, so I decide to retreat to the toilets and think of a better one. There I meet Larissa, 31, from London who thinks 'Head In The Ground' by My Red Cell is "single of the year". Wanton employment of chat up line number 2 ("did your Dad steal the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes?") causes her to flee, however. So close. So close.

Never mind. If there's any one band to provide the perfect soundtrack to a night of sweet love action, its the howling mentalists in Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. Possibly. Down the front I meet Marianne, 22, and Katy, 24, from Birmingham who have traveled down specially for the gig. Fortunately, the noise emanating from the stage - a cross between a cat trapped in a tumble drier and the lift muzak on the journey down to hell - drowns out my hastily thought-up pickup line ("I work for the NME. Fancy it?") long enough for an Actual Proper Conversation to ensue. The girls think that Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster are "the bees knees". Sadly, before any hot love action occurs, they are carried away by the mosh pit and NME is left alone once more.

Back in the toilets a drunk man informs me that tonight’s gig "fucking rocked" before getting angry because I appear to be pointing a Dictaphone at his urinating knob. It's time to cut my losses. Cupid might not have been on the guest-list tonight. But perhaps it’s hard to find love when you’re suffering from extreme noise terror of the first degree.

Rich Pelley

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