Tonight [a]Club NME[/a] is a riot of cultural cross fertilisation. It’s a glorious United Nations of rock sub-cults as punk-metal fans rub shoulders with the moody trenchcoat brigade and romantically sullen emo kids. There’s even a few rockabillys hanging out by the bar. In fact the only thing this lot has in common is an uncommon way with dress. Boy, is this crowd well turned out? Beautiful jewelled skirts shimmer, razor-sharp fringes threaten to scythe innocent passers-by and all manner of charity shop trash is thrown together in an orgy of elegant slumming.
Amid all the freaks, geeks and indie chic, four of rock’s youngest upstarts are looking to catch some eyes and ears. All the way from Boston MA, The Explosion’s pop-punk energy, ahem, blasts things off. ‘Here I Am’ and ‘I Know’ from forthcoming third album ‘Black Tape’ rock like early Green Day with politics, as a thousand chiming guitars get chainsawed and some guy called Bush gets a hounding.
Next up are Birmingham’s Editors, a band who have clearly taken The Futureheads’ aesthetic to their hearts. True, if you squint, their grey shirted attire makes them look a little like a ’Grange Hill’ Joy Division but their sweeping sinister splendour makes up for it. Moody and magnificent, it’s like a heart-broken Chris Martin threw in his lot with Interpol. ‘Munich’ is The Third Man to a glacial post-punk beat, while ‘Bullets’ is a vast, U2 stadium-filler. It’s an intoxicating, gloomoid brew infused with the romance of the dark.
If Editors are after [a]Joy Division[/a]’s look, [a]The Rakes[/a]’ Alan Donohue is already in possession of their genius onstage moves. His bulging eyes – always focussed on a drama in the middle distance – mic frottage and jerky movements are pure Ian Curtis. Surrounded by his shrinking violet bandmates, he brings a fantastic tension to intelligent punk anthems ‘Strasbourg’ and ‘22 Grand Job’. Both former singles, they’re as good as golden-age [a]Buzzcocks[/a] and see the crowd passionately clapping along and nodding their freshly sheared Bloc Heads in approval.
The award for Sartorial Statement of the Night, though, goes to Yourcodenameis:milo singer Paul Mullen and his vivid Buggles glasses. He might look like a sensitive sci-fi nerd, but his music rages like a rutting tyrannosaurus. Yourcodename…’s have blossomed to such a degree in recent months that songs like ‘The Dead French’ and ‘2 Stone’ recall the visceral impact of At The Drive In. And with single ‘Rapt Dept’ tossed away at the outset, it’s a pretty good marker of how confident they are.
So, four agents of fortune set [a]Club NME[/a] ablaze but only one band can be the best. And it’s [a]The Rakes[/a]; they don’t so much play their songs as put them on display and exquisitely torture them for our pleasure.
What this means
We’re getting a better haircut before we go to [a]Club NME[/a] again.