Les Savy Fav: Komedia, Brighton 15 Oct 2010

Posted on 21 November 2010 by Dorian

Wichita Recordings is an interesting record label. Based on the triple bill of acts featured here, Les Savy Fav, Sky Larkin and Cloud Nothings, the quality of the band is the key to be signed, not the style of music you play. Sure, all three acts are guitar lead indie acts, but they couldn’t be more different within that boundary.

First up we have Cloud Nothings, a band that I have only just discovered who’s only release is a collection of bedroom recorded EPs and singles. On record they sound like The Russian Futurists, with guitars replacing the keyboards. All fuzzy and homemade. Live there is more of a punk rock attitude (albeit a geeky one), how I imagine Weezer would sound if they had grown up listening to the Buzzcocks rather than Van Halen. The songs sounded fresh and spirited and despite the small audience (the set finished just as the venue was starting to fill up) the atmosphere was good. The lights were oddly low throughout and made it hard to see what was going on onstage. The only upside to this was that it looked just like the band was fronted by Superbad’s McLovin. Having looked up pictures of Dylan Baldi since on Google I can see that this isn’t the case.

Sky Larkin

Sky Larkin (drummer not in shot due to being in the shower)

Sky Larkin herald from Leeds and, like Cloud Nothings, are one of my bands to watch out for next year (see our feature later this month). They have released two excellent albums and, on the strength of tonight, are unassuming but pretty captivating live. A classic indie three piece they nicely straddle the line between British female fronted indie pop and the harder edge of a band like Sleater Kinney. Like Cloud Nothings their set is short but sweet. ‘Fossil, I’ from their debut album The Golden Spike being a standout from a very strong set. Again the stage is oddly dark and this detracts a little from the performance.

Les Savy Fav

Tim Harrington sings to the startled bar staff

Les Savy Fav are a band that I’ve liked but not loved on record. Let’s Stay Friends being their only album I own, and enjoyable as it is I’ve never been tempted to buy anything else. Seeing them live is a revelation.

Front man Tim Harrington is a big figure, not just physically (although he is) but in presence and in voice equally. He arrives on stage in a smart shirt and a wig, assuming the role of a motivational speaker. As soon as they launch into their first song he dives into the audience and sings most of the vocals from various positions in the auditorium. Beer flies high and the crowd is 100% engaged from the start.

The band are excellent as well, powerful and tight. They are also the first act tonight with the confidence to demand that more light is shone on the stage, a vast improvement. The sound is classic American alternative rock, but with an angular edge. How The Hold Steady might sound if they had listened to more Fugazi and less Springsteen. The energy doesn’t drop from start to finish, and Harrington seems to have an infinite energy supply.

The only problem with the set was the behaviour of the venue’s security. I saw several people being ejected and this from one of the least threatening audiences you are likely to ever see at a gig. Happy and enthusiastic, yes, aggressive and dangerous, no. At one point a number of people got on the stage (Harrington breaks down the audience/stage boundaries with his unusually mobile behaviour). Within seconds they were outnumbered by security staff. Their presence was unnecessarily heavy handed and out of keeping with the mood of the gig.

This is a minor downside to an otherwise brilliant gig, probably my favourite gig of the year so far.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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