Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gig Review Ketchup

The Autumn Store Presents: Moofish Catfish/Waldo Jeffers/MJ Hibbert and the Validators, The Autumn Store, Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, Saturday June 13 2009, 9pm.
The Thermals, 02 Academy 3, Birmingham, Monday June 22nd, 9.30pm.
The Warlocks/Wild Palms/Guile, The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham, Sunday July 19 2009,8pm.

You'd have to be nuts to miss an Autumn Store gathering, even though we've contrived to do just that more than we'd like, but the lure of catching some Moofish Catfish at the beginning of their UK tour proved strong enough bait on this occasion. Like a slightly poppier Liechtenstein, but with enough pirhana bite in the guitars to supply a crunchy base to their witty lyrics and soaring harmonies, they were a real find so catch 'em if you can. Also on the bill were local band Waldo Jeffers, whose set was a mixed bag, but the singer has a distinctive, velvety voice, and if they can fix a matching musical voice in terms of a distinct direction they certainly have plenty potential. Headlining were London's MJ Hibbert And The Validators, whose wry, lo-fi take on modern pop culture provided a ramshackle but undeniably entertaining climax to the evening's entertainment.

Over at The Rainbow there was more overtly serious fare where The Warlocks were headlining on a recently-redesigned stage area to a black-clad crowd. Bobby Hensher and crew haven't exactly developed their sound as much as refined it: we came for a driven set of powerful, transcendent guitars, that's what we got, and we loved it. Not that everybody was as transfixed, however: some punter with a hot girlfriend is twittering 'The left guitar[sic] looks like a right miserable git'. Sheesh, everyone's a critic these days, right?

Of the supports, we continue to be impressed by Guile, despite them having to fight against the apathy from some of the early birds in the crowd, while London's Wild Palms provided some sharp relief from the storm und drang with their relatively chirpy, choppy, rappy-chappy take on mathsrock, their best two songs bookending an uneven but diverting set. Top marks to whoever was on the decks, too: The Telescopes' 'The Perfect Needle' and Bowie's 'Heroes' (the German language version, unless our ears deceived us), you really know how to spoil us.

Somewhere in between, we managed to shoehorn an express midsummer trip to the predictably humid Academy 3 to see Portland's The Thermals, our first chance to see them and typically it fell at a time where we for once hadn't gotten round to listening to their latest material. It mattered little, as we were too busy jumping up and down to their hilariously energetic fuzzpop/rock to be taking notes anyway. The Thermals, then: sweaty, but fun.

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