Thursday, July 05, 2012
STANDARD FARE + TIGERCATS @ THE CASTLE 4 July 2012
“Can we have more volume for the iPad please?” What?! This is an Indietracks warm-up gig? I expect holier-than-thou devotion to keeping-it-real analogue instruments – predominantly guitars. Well the Apple accessory was a minor part of the set-up for five-piece The Birthday Kiss, a convenience to add keyboards to a classic two guitars/bass/drums line-up. And to prove their Indietracks credentials, The Birthday Kiss opened with an acoustic number just on two ukuleles and three voices (that’s more like it). They may not have agreed on who was counting in songs or even what the songs were called but The Birthday Kiss delivered a perfectly fun and tight set. Only demos kicking around the internet currently but an album is promised “before the end of the year”. Looking forward to it and to seeing if The Birthday Kiss’s toe-tapping romanticism goes beyond enjoyable set openers to something more substantial.
I’m late to the Tigercats declaration-of-independence party but catching up rapidly with prolonged exposure to their debut long-player "Isle of Dogs". The London five-piece’s music is littered with references to the capital city but it never feels narrow-focus or tied to one place. Instead it’s a joyous, edgy and cosmopolitan experience, blending hints of uplifting afro-pop to infectious indiepop goodness that touches on Talking Heads, Hefner and Los Campesinos. This was my first live encounter so I don’t know how tonight’s short ten song set compares with others but it was sharp, feisty and world-beating in my opinion, even if the Manchester crowd were too overheated to dance.
Standard Fare were a band who I’d waited a long time to see, breaking my Noyelle Beat duck last February playing with This Many Boyfriends and Allo Darlin’. There I thought they were given short shrift: opening with minimal lighting or fanfare to a thin early doors crowd. Here to a packed room, they were on blistering form – and I’m not just talking about the paint and varnish coming off the walls and ceiling in the heat. This was a commanding, straight-out-of-the-traps performance – easily glossing over a cock-up on second song ‘Dead Future’ - and feeling like a greatest hits set. The trio became a four-piece with bass duties taken over by ‘Adam’ for three songs but in either configuration the momentum they built up for their punchy, power-pop never dropped (and why I think they skipped over playing slowie ‘Darth Vader’ on the set-list below). “They look too normal to be a band” was said as Standard Fare started their set. As they left the small stage at the end, they still looked the same but demonstrated what a confident band they are and what fine, muscular songs they have.
I have still never been to Indietracks and won’t make it to this weekend’s event either (though always buy the excellent compilation each year). Instead this insanely good value warm-up gig promoted by Underachievers Please Try Harder was my consolation prize. Hats off to all involved: difficult conditions for the musicians in the sauna-like conditions of The Castle but not one of them let it show. Warmed up indeed.