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awkward aural adventures

Art Brut – Fermain Tavern, Guernsey

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This is important!

Reading Festival, TOTPsNME, TOTPs…Glastonbury Festival, TOTPs…Guernsey Festival…WTF?!

It would be perfectly understandable for serial popsters Art Brut to wonder where the hell they are, flailing with gleeful abandon on and off the edge of a small beersweat-encrusted stage somewhere within the dark heart of this strange island where fate, brandy and a man named Jim Rhesus have ensnared them. But Eddie Argos and Art Brut know exactly where they are. Delivering rabble rousing banter and incorporating local knowledge with such aplomb that they delight the assembled and smash all pretence of pretentious art wave scenester frauds. Oh, and did I tell you their secret? Art Brut are a dirty fucking rock band!

First up, though…and The Night Society. A bombastic, indie rough cut diamond. Songs of loss, regret, revenge and despair delivered with such ferocity and honesty you can’t help but watch waiting for the impact. Brett’s drumming is cataclysmic, Dre pulsates like Jello Biafra possessing Frank Black, spitting bile and sarcastic lament, whilst Krissie’s harmonies add the sugar pill of poise and grace that keeps the whole train clinging to the tracks. Loud and boisterous, tender and violent, in love and enraged, this is the best break up sex you never had.

Next up we have the sonic bombast of Guernsey hardcore band Limefire. The best hardcore, from Minor Threat to Sick Of It All, is defined by the times and places it inhabits, at once universal but also incredibly localised. Limefire speak about issues and places they’ve lived through. Songs like ‘Scene Queen’ and ‘Shambles’ detail events affecting the band and the Guernsey music scene.

Right now, though, half of Limefire are dying. They have the lurgee and no amount of fruit-based energy drinks can save them. But any doubts that this may be a restrained performance lie in tatters on the floor as the closing chords of opener ‘Shambles’ ring out across the Tavern, and for the next 20 minutes Limefire blitzkrieg their way from a shambles to a borstal breakout.

Later I find them discussing the merits of cheap Korean guitars and Pantera with Art Brut’s Ian Catskilkin. I digress.

Famous on distant shores for employing the same session vocalist as Electric Six, Thee Jenerators (featuring Mark Le Gallez of mod figureheads The Risk) are veritable gods on home soil. They have of late undergone a metamorphosis, additional sax bringing old songs kicking and screaming into a new era. Resplendent in red and black, Thee Jenerators fire through songs like ‘Fight The Power’ and ‘Burn The House Down’ with vitriol and menace.

The sax fills out the sound, adding a new maturity that elevates and pushes the band forward. All the boxes are checked, Le Gallez’s jack in the box dance manoeuvres and staccato vocals backed up with Ozzy’s pounding drums, flanked by Matt’s buzzsaw guitars and Lynchys statuesque bass. Familiarity can often breed stagnation and boredom, but tonight nothing seems taken for granted and each familiar chorus and fuzz-laden riff seems shiny and new.

Onward then to the raucous climax. Edie Argos has been swapping albums for brandy and coke at the bar, current exchange rate apparently equating to 15 Euros, and these actions appear to have him suitable lubricated to lead us through 45 minutes of brash agit pop steeped in art school suss and Stooges-like bravado.

This isn’t really a gig, more like having a few friends round to leave cigarette burns on your carpet before the police get called in. Kicking off each song with “Are you ready Art Brut? GO!”, these songs unfold like a gloriously drunk Jackanory. Episodic snapshots unfurling like a slow developing Polaroid, eventually revealing the heart behind the sloganeering veneer. ‘My Little Brother’, ‘Bad Weekend’, ‘Emily Kane’, all sharp, witty and infectious. Argos discarding the small stage and choosing instead to lead the party, flailing amongst the sweat heavy throng, exotic in Hawaiian shirt and officer class ‘tache, instructing Chris Chinchilla, Ian Catskilkin, Fredie Feedback and Mikey B along each new avenue.

“Art Brut break it down!”

“Art Brut pick it up!”

‘The Fall for beginners’ tag instantly discarded to the ‘journalism for slackers’ pile. The Fall were never fun, were they? Dirty, English and whole enough to belie the albatross one-hit-wonderisms paraded about in the wake of ‘Formed A Band’, Art Brut tonight are intimate and illuminating.

Argos inflames local rivalries by declaring that Guernsey is wonderful but Jersey is shit, “They have the wrong colour cows! Fuck Bergerac, who the fuck is Charlie Hungerford?”

Participation is the name of the game and Jim Rhesus joins Art Brut to perform backing vocals on ‘Moving To LA’, reprising a role he assumed on the acoustic version to be found on the New Cross unplugged album. Art Brut may be defined by Argos’ Pulp-ish observations and vocal delivery, neither spoken, nor sung, but behind him are a band made up of variously, a ska fanatic, a grunge fan, a Pantera aficionado and a drummer who allegedly only consumes Weezer. Thrashing out genre-baiting sound blasts, dovetailing between pre-burnout Blur and straight up punk rock riffs, tonight Art Brut win.

As the evening derails into a stage invasion that leaves Jim Rhesus joining the band for an AC/DC-style blow-out you start to think, tonight Guernsey, next week German Rolling Stone…surely that Top Of The Pops date is only a phone call away?

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Written by Jonathan

June 30, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Live, Reviews

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