Baby Strange | Live Review
Baby Strange @ Louisiana, Bristol. 01.06.14.
The band play for just twenty-five minutes but every second is thrilling, full of dark wit and fun choruses.
With comparisons and influences thrown about left right and centre when it comes to Baby Strange, they really have a lot to live up to. The first always being The Clash, as well as other greats like The Ramones and early Nick Cave. Expectations are high tonight.
What is completely unexpected, though, is the lack of turn-out. Have all the people who are interested in great new music gone on holiday? Fifteen, maybe twenty people are spread sporadically across the room, which now seems to look very small compared to when it’s full. This doesn’t seem to bother the band too much, though, as singer Johnny Madden keeps a cool nonchalance throughout the show as they blast through their brilliant post-punk flawlessly. It’s especially bizarre considering the tales of people queuing down the road to get into their Great Escape show last month. Anyway, the one hundred people who could have been there to fill the capacity were missing out.
The band play for just twenty-five minutes but every second is thrilling. ‘Distance Yourself’ is a song full of dark wit and fun choruses, a sure-fire hit for a bigger crowd. It’s easy to picture a mass of people going mental and shouting along to the chorus - “they try to take our lives, they try to take our fun”, before the guitars descend into ravenous chaos.
The onstage chat is minimal, as the music certainly does the talking. But awkward silences ensue and Madden feels the need to get us all “a bit closer” to the stage which somehow makes things a lot less awkward. What follows is a thing of brilliance - a ramshackle cover of Peter Bjorn and John’s whistle-along pop genius ‘Young Folks’ - except there’s no whistling, and no pop. Just furious Orwells-style guitars and Madden’s snarling vocals. The song has well and truly been corrupted in the best possible way.
The rest of the show is just as impressive, although if the set was longer it could start to feel repetitive - there’s only so much a three-piece punk outfit can do to achieve a varied set. They do what they do perfectly so far, however, and they still have a lot of room to surprise critics. ‘Pure Evil’ is a brilliantly slick, detached tune with all the self-assured carelessness of The Sex Pistols and all the tempo of the Ramones. ‘Friend’ drops without an introduction and if this is what they can do now, it’s only going to get better. Full of Palma Violets’ I-don’t-give-a-fuck outlook and ‘ooh ooh ooh’ing, it’s impossible to stand still.
The band politely decline requests for ‘more’ from the small crowd and quickly leave the stage. Hey, at least they’re not The Pizza Underground. All the greats start out with tiny shows and when people catch on, these guys are going to make a stir.
Check out single ‘Friend’ right here: