Featuring Ronika, Fists, Swound! and The Kabeedies, BBC Radio Nottingham’s Dean Jackson – with the backing of Radio One indie buff Huw Stephens – put together a this sadly under-attended showcase. Still, I got to meet Huw himself so every cloud…
Date: June 29, 2009
Venue: Rescue Rooms
Despite its BBC tag, the chance to see four up-and-coming new bands, and the promise that Radio 1 DJ and all-round nice guy Huw Stephens was to co-host the event, this gig was woefully under-attended. Considering the miniscule admission price of £3 too (that’s 75p per band, mathematics fans) it’s a travesty that so few bothered to turn up. One can only assume the hot weather tempted punters into their back gardens for impromptu barbecues rather than a stuffy Rescue Rooms.
But frankly those who stayed away missed out, as an array of bands (3 of which are local) provided a beguiling aural showcase.
First up was local lass Ronika – a pretty blonde bombshell with a flower in her hair and a spring in her step, decadent in a Hawaiian-themed dress.
Her music is dripping with cutesy harmonies and skipping melodies, constructed of resounding synths and flanked by a thudding bass. She sits comfortably in the post-La Roux environment, where dollish songstresses can easily propel their wiry electro future-pop to number one status with the right amount of cunning, radio play and extra hold hairspray. Therefore it’s not entirely inconceivable that Ronika could follow her contemporaries La Roux and Little Boots to stardom with a little fortune.
Her synth-splattered electro and jazz-soul is as adorable as fluffy kittens in puppy-dog pajamas and if Chart Show sycophants Fern and Reggie aren’t annoyingly waxing lyrical over the minimalistic pop playfulness of I Got To Learn How To Dance’s high chart placing anytime soon I’ll eat the flower from her curly hair.
Despite their threatening moniker, Fists look like they couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. But looks can be deceiving, for their music is a surprising mash of ominous folk-rock with a deeply embedded malevolence.
They’re a complex hybrid of Camera Obscura’s yearning twee-pop, The Mountain Goats’ folky wistfulness and The Breeders’ ethereal discordance. There’s also a fuzzy rush which relates to their Sonic Youth influences too. And how many bands can combine a washboard and a megaphone to good effect? Not many.
After a short break Radio Nottingham’s Dean Jackson (Dean is partly responsible – along with Huw Stephens – for this BBC Introducing… shebang) takes the mic to proudly welcome the sonic aggressors which are collectively known as Swound!, a band who have been making the likes of Steve Lamacq and Huw Stephens coo zealously of late thanks to their eccentricity.
Darlings of Derby underground label Stressed Sumo Records their ebullient pop-punk is nowhere near as bad as ebullient pop-punk might seem. Think Weezer pillow-fighting with The Wombats as The Ramones soundtrack the ensuing hyperactive mess.
Their set opens up a fizzing maelstrom of amusing lyrics, insanely infectious riffs and the type of fun usually had at Art Brut gigs. What’s Your Poison? is the best shark-referencing pop song ever, while Living In A Box illustrates their humour perfectly with its nursery rhyme-rock and odes to both Goldilocks and Pinocchio.
Final song Lost In Space had guitarist Rowan launching himself through the gaping chasms in the audience and clambering atop the bar to throttle his axe, while drummer Lloyd halts proceedings to mockingly jab at his kit in a petulant, nonchalant manner, before restarting the song only for it to merge seamlessly into Slipknot’s profane Surfacing. It’s exactly the jubilant lightheartedness you should expect from them.
The night’s headline slot belonged to Norfolk new hopes The Kabeedies – the outsiders in this local shindig. Not that the crowd are about to persecute them for daring to come from outside of the NG postcode, mind; these tinkers are just too ruddy nice for us to see them come to harm.
Like Los Campesinos! without a hammered xylophone they make flirtatious and delicious indie guitar music, evoking a time when indie meant mailing out numbered vinyl records and handmade badges to your fan base of 12.
As they alternate their vocal duties between boy and girl, and adorn us with their whimsical lyrics including a humorous rant on North Norfolk farming publications and blue duck eggs, you can’t help but fall head over heels in love with their dainty pop tomfoolery and enchanting kookiness, even if Nightwolf (Katie to her parents) scares the hell out of the front row with her crazy jolting dance moves.
As the sparse crowd aimed for the exits for some much-needed air there was a palpable sense of achievement. Huw could be found meandering through the crowd, genially swapping musical tales and handing out badges (yep, it’s that indie), gratefully accepting pats on the back for his involvement. And while the turn out was poor, the music was anything but.