Friday, April 21, 2006

Partially Obscured Pouts

Giant Drag/Foreign Born, Bar Academy, Birmingham, Tuesday April 18 2006.

It's the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday and Birmingham is beseiged by emo brats looking miffed in a studied manner as they queue up to see Panic! At The Disco in the main Academy. A blonde teenager in something like a pink tutu lurches out of the kebab shop in front of Dead Kenny and keeps shouting at the emo brats to STOP LOOKING AT HER, SO SHE'S DRUNK, SO WHAT? The emo brats continue to ignore her, so she shouts louder at them to stop looking at her. So far so fifth form, but your correspondent's path to the Bar Academy is blocked by dumb but cute Americans who somehow think the Bar is going to give them some kind of shortcut to see P!ITD. Tactfully advise them there is another band playing tonight (cue shocked and awed expressions: there are other bands than Panic! At The Disco? Who knew?) and manage to wend my way towards the bouncer (visibly relieved to be encountering someone over 20) and up the stairs for relative sanity.

The venue is already buzzing more than an aviary-based Ann Summers party, something of a rarity these days for your correspondent who had a largely amicable split with the zeitgeist about 18 months ago which is threatening to develop into a full-on you-call-your-solicitors-I'll-call-mine ballbusting melodrama if things don't change sometime soon. Meet up with Alison just in time for the first band on, four energetic Americans with an evident fondness for Echo & The Bunnymen (early 80s windswept vintage). There's something else familiar about the lead singer's voice and then it hits home with the opening chords of 'We Have Pleasure', these guys are Foreign Born and this is the song that's integrated itself into the Parallax Jukebox since we made it our favourite cut from recent megavalue Moshi Moshi records compilation Can You Hear Me Clearly?. Nothing puts a smile faster on Dead Kenny's physiog than catching a band he wants to see as unannounced support, so consequently he's grinning like a kid with ADHD playing tetris while off his tits on Tizer, as the band rip through a short but furious set of mountainous rock chewnage. Over at the merch stand their t-shirts and promo CDs are flying out faster than Brits in search of a cheap piss-up so methinks Foreign Born are unlikely to remain outsiders for long.

Ringrusty from sellout gigs and distracted by some quality conversation with Alison, Dead Kenny forgets the golden rule at the Bar Academy and neglects to fight to get to the first four rows before the main act comes on. Consequently, when Giant Drag get onstage, we haven't had such a poor view of a band since Spitfire overdid the dry-ice machine at Oakengates Lion Street back in 1992. Alison asks whether Annie Hardy is pretty and Dead Kenny has to play mental jigsaw with the composite images assembled in his brain from mystery-guest-from Question-of-Sport style quick-cut montages to come up with a response. A bit too much like hard work, so just tell a bare-faced lie and say she looks like an undernourished Louise Redknapp *if* an undernourished Louise Redknapp liked to spend her afternoons lolled in an armchair stabbing her downy forearm with a big wooden spoon. It's a random shot, but Alison seems to swallow it.

In summary, the atmosphere is more kicking than an octopus doing keepy-uppies; the music is undeniably vibrant (including some obscure ep tracks and b-sides that stand up well to material from album-of-the-year contender Hearts and Unicorns); the banter is quality (mainly at the expense of Panic! At The Disco, and including way too much use of the word gnarly); there is commendable disdain for the tortuous charade that is the encore - but missing out on the visual spectacle of actually seeing the band perform? That, dear reader, is the real Giant Drag of the evening.


Blogger Ben said...

That's right - blame Alison...

11:56 PM  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Heh, not really. Just forgotten how ridiculously difficult it is to see diminutive popstars in that venue when it's proper packed.

The last few Bar Academy shows we've attended (Shortwave Set, Ladyfuzz) have been rather more sparsely attended, it has to be said.

7:41 PM  

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