Converse Gigs @ The 100 Club, London, March 4
The history of the 100 Club is as embedded into the walls of the underground bunker that the venue operates in as the sweat of the thousands of punk bands that have played here. Tonight, though, is opened by London-via-Australia party-rockers MT, who cut loose with their Patrick Wolf-inspired theatrics. After them, London-based Aussies Splashh play their first gig of the year in raging form, paying particular attention to ‘Need It’, which they stretch out until it is positively snarling. Headliners Palma Violets don’t go in for the same slacker rage as Splashh, they’re too preoccupied with having fun. Chilli Jesson barks at the crowd like a caged dog after 50 pokes, while Sam Fryer is Pete and Carl rolled into one topped off with Dylan Moran’s drunk hair. Keyboard player Pete Mayhew, however, looks more like a man who, though not annoyed by the fact, is definitely aware he’s missing Girls on TV tonight. He is contemplative and calm, a counterpoint to the madness around him.
Thanks to the 100 Club’s novel approach to the line of sight, Mayhew is all that half of the venue can see for the majority of the show. The massive pillar in the middle of the room hides the rest of the band, which lends an unusual air to proceedings. As Chilli and Sam buzz in front of wildly oscillating drummer Will Doyle, Mayhew dozes his way through ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’, draws up a mental shopping list through ‘Tom The Drum’ and drifts away as his bandmates tear through ‘Best Of Friends’. Then the set draws to a close, and he leaps up and dances madly to ’14’.
It’s testament to Palma Violets that they can turn their disinterested keyboard player into a believer. The band are putting the good times back into music, one rabble-rousing anthem at a time. Nobody here has to pretend they really enjoy listening to 10 minutes of feedback or claim they’ve “always been really into hip-hop”, it’s just a big old party.
The gig ends in chaos as fans flock to the stage and dance to ‘Brand New Song’, others choosing to meditate under Pete Mayhew’s keyboard. The track sums up Palma Violets perfectly: big and dumb but sure as hell not stupid. As the stage descends into chaos, nobody could claim this is anything but massive fun.