Wednesday, October 19, 2005

hard-fi @ camden electric ballroom

minifig and i went to see hard-fi at the camden electric ballroom today. because minifig and i are such seasoned gig-goers, we’ve becoming increasingly blasé about seeing the latest quick bright things, so although we always arrive early, if at all possible, we go and bag a seat at the back near the bar and the loos. what a pair of old farts. leccy ballroom has a handy balcony above the stage, with its own bar and easy access to the bathroom, with bar stools and a table-football thingy that directly faces the stage. you can see the crowd mosh away whilst sipping your lager on a bar stool like lady muck, and after a long day at work I LOVE IT!

support from director and distophia (pronounced dystopia -what a stupid spelling, anyone trying to look up the band will have immensetrouble). director were actually very good, but fit too well into the militant art-rock style of editors and franz ferdinand – and familiarity breeds contempt, or at the very least, boredom. distophia were like poor-man’s brummie nine black alps mixed with a flavouring of old-school grunge. they were okay – better perfomers than director, but overall, i don’t think we made any great discoveries.

Boasting section

Bands I have seen in support slots:

Franz Ferdinand (genius – you knew they were going to be HUGE)
Bloc Party (okay-ish, very student garage band)
The Magic Numbers (sublime – again….it was only a matter if time)
Beck & DJ Shadow (supporting The Verve at Haigh Hall – class gig - with fireworks!)
Tom Vek (dull, supporting Graham Coxon, who was also later joined on stage by Pete Doherty)
Kid Carpet (bloody genius – go see him Friday 28th at the Barfly)
Antony from A & Johnsons performing with Lou Reed – wondrous strange
The Subways – aw, they’re so cute
The Mystery Jets / Eastern Lane – ubiquitous support bands of whom I am very fond

Dude, I am cooooooool.
(I am blatantly not)

as minifig points out on his blog, the dj between sets was boogie-licious! i appreciate a proper live dj, mixing up music properly, as opposed to just the same old CD repeated. the set was carefully chosen - the clash, the specials, nice dub beats, all very fitting for a hard-fi gig. the band did their time coming onstage though – it was nearly an hour between distophia and hard-fi, and when they did, middle eastern holiday wasn’t that good – bit rushed, bit slurred – but thankfully, things improved quickly from there.

when i first heard hard-fi’s album stars of cctv i thought it was brilliant. then I listened to it some more and found it flawed. but returning to it, the things i disliked about hard-fi are the things that make them great. their music is deceptively simple. they sing about crap jobs, all-night drinking, young offender’s institutes, drug addiction, mischief-making and all-round laddish bhevaiour. the album at times feels like a daily-mail front-page headline [i hate the f**king daily mail], at other times a slightly ridiculous exaggeration of urban estate-life. but its also incredibly genuine – it hits the nerve of anyone under the age of 30, living in britian, working 9am-5pm, with a penchant for pubs and flashes of behaviour that are two steps away from an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order for those outside the UK). Anyone young with half a heartbeat and a fluctuating bank balance will - or should - stick this CD on and feel a little bit more awake and smile heartily.

watching a crowd of people, screaming the “No! No!
” chorus in cash machine, followed by the gloriously punk music-hall chorus “There’s a hole in my pocket, my pocket, my pocket!” made me feel more connected to the gangs of miserable whey-faced commuters i join each day on my way to and from work. i felt happy to be young, despite the fact i was shattered from work. i had spent the train journey to camden locked in a southwest train carriage full of boozed-up teenagers in ben sherman shirts and mini-skirts, drinking neat vodka and screaming joyously. it was slightly irritating at the time, but by the end of the gig, i couldn’t help but think the state of youth today isn’t so bad – it’s riotously awake and stupid and exactly how it should be. hard-fi are rambunctious, noisy and boisterous. young, dumb and full of .... it’s a privileged position to be in.

hard-fi’s d.i.y. quality is impressive – the entire album was produced by the boys themselves and its arguably one of the best produced albums all year - little bit dirty, quite flashy at times, but has escaped the death-kiss of over-production. unlike kt tunstall, who might be okay, i can't tell, because a vampire appears to have sucked the life-blood out of her radio-friendly dribble.

hard-fi's oh-so-english, nostalgic dub and reggae tinges snatched from the clash and the specials gives the music a real edge - it's the music your cooler older brother listened to, the music hanging around when you were a kid. This, matched with the slightly cheesy, sweaty disco jubilance of tracks like gotta reason and hard to beat all help to take you from your seat on the commuter train to a trashy club on vodka and red-bull. this is truly uplifting head-space to be in.

plus, these hard-fi boys are mini-street poets. okay, so it doesn't always work, but each song has a little narrative running through it – broken relationships with nasty girls, an amazing one-night stand transformed into a glorious love affair, the pop-opera of drugs to self destruction that is feltham is singing out, money issues exacerbated by an unplanned pregnancy – stars of CCTV is a garish comic-strip of youth that makes you want to drink, dance and brawl. like a gorgeous overblown episode of ibiza uncovered mixed with a spaghetti western hard-fi fulfill all your saturday night needs.

we need bands like hard-fi – stop all the interior musing, the “clever” samples and “ironic” lyrics for just five minutes and have a right rare knees-up people! even if you are an old fart, like me and minifig...

and i still maintain, living for the weekend is the worst song on the entire album.
but the cheeky little piano solo on stars of cctv makes up for it


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