Monday, August 11, 2008

at home by the sea pt. 1

Memories of At Home By The Sea, Concorde II, Brighton (part one).

- Walking along the sea-front, observing the choppy waters, it occurs to me that I am absolutely shattered. It's 6.45 on Saturday afternoon, and having spent the morning moving house, it's dawning on me that a mini-festival on Brighton Beach is perhaps a step too far. The sea is looking faintly furious and the rain is pelting down. Up ahead I hear a band humming away, and a reedy vocal.

- Shit, it's The Wave Pictures, onstage absurdly early. We race in and jostle to the front, to see a relaxed, grinning Dave Tattersal leading his wonderful band through a ramshackle tune as delightful as anything on Instant Coffee Baby, but not something I recognise. I know that Dan, Ant and Victoria are not far behind us, so I text them urging them to hurry, but by the time I look up from my phone the band are telling us that there are CDs available. Which I realise, with a heavy heart, means they're finished. And they are. They smile at us, at each other, and put down their instruments. I find I'm rather furious. I can't believe we missed them.

- Off to the bar.

- We wander round the side, wondering what the set up is. It seems that there are four stages; one in the bar at the front of the venue, one main stage in the usual place, another behind it and a small outdoor stage underneath one of the arches, lit with fairy lights and curated by the wonderful Peggy Sue (who have dispensed with the Pirates). But there's nothing there so we stop and say hello to a friend in a nice dress, and walk back round the front, wanting to catch the others and get a good place for Thomas Tantrum, who we've worked out are on next.

- We meet our friends and stand out front, watching a helicopter circle the pier, above the darkening waters. The next day we discover that a man, out on a stag do, drowned in the sea.

- One of Thomas Tantrum is wearing a Lemonheads t-shirt. If I didn't already think them brilliant, had never heard 'em before, the moment where I spotted this would probably be the moment when I started loving them.

- They don't impress all of my friends quite as much as I expect they will, but I later discover that Ant, at least, is only underwhelmed because he'd persuaded himself they were from Los Angeles and felt let down by the unromantic fact that they're from Southampton. I think they are absolutely terrific, however.

- They make brilliant, passionate, loveable, delirous pop music. Megan is a brilliant frontwoman, which helps, looking like a young Kim Gordon, alternately picking her strings in a reverie and slashing at the strings, crouched low. Her voice, let's be honest, some people will hate; it's high, unconventional and girlish, but not at all passive. She sounds bored and engaged by turn, investing every line with an appropriate feeling.

- The rest of the band are great too. David and Jim, on guitar and bass respectively, are very cool in different ways. The former (he of the Lemonheads t-shirt) contributes some really fantastic guitar playing, his style loose and melodious without being at all predictable, picking out tangential, forceful melodies and scittering between motifs. His instinctive lines and appreciation of sound make me think of Spiral Stairs' heart-felt Pavement stuff. Jim on bass is just really cool, jumping up onto the drum riser and spinning out ultra-fluent, poppy basslines.

- They play about eight or nine songs in twenty odd minutes, and they're all brilliant. 'Shake It Shake It' and 'Work It' are buzzy, immediate pop and 'Why The English Are Rubbish' and 'Pshandy' are miniature canvases conjured up with real dexterity and complexity. All through their set there are hidden melodies which suddenly emerge, tempo changes and lustful changes of emphasis. Throughout it all Megan is bashful, keeping her eyes down and her feet on the floor. This surely can't last - Thomas Tantrum are way too good, and she'll have to get used to the applause.

- Right, more recall tomorrow...


Anonymous said...

Came here via facebook; great write-up, and a shame you missed The Wave Pictures. They're in Brighton again next month I think.

Ben said...

Thomas Tantrum sound worth investigating.

I saw The Wave Pictures nearly a couple of years ago now, and really didn't know what to make of them - but repeated exposure to Plan B makes me think a second listen is overdue...