The Video Nasties and The Strange Death of Liberal EnglandEdit this event
- Cargo, London »
Cargo may be packed to the rafters tonight with people on the lookout for the increasingly over-the-top theatrics that have come to embody an of Montreal performance, but there are some talented youngsters on this evening’s musical menu serving prime art-rock cocktails to the waiting crowd before the arrival of the main course.
Based on the first 30 seconds of music, and the length of their name alone, it’s clear that The Strange Death of Liberal England are a band who swim in the same pool as the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Arcade Fire. Performing with an intensity rarely seen during opening slots, TSDOLE, with their heavy referencing of literary figures like John Fante’s Arturo Bandini and multipart choruses more often shouted than sung, make a bold racket topped off with an epic, orchestral flair that’s not just massive, it’s exhilarating. Take note, because this five-piece just may be one of the year’s best new bands.
The young scamps in The Video Nasties dabble in tunes that remind the audience they most certainly are in LDN. Even though half of the band look like a Melvins tribute act, these lads spit out a snappy, synth-led power pop that comes across like The Futureheads weaned on Roxy Music at an early age, only to discover the edgier joys of ‘70s and ‘80s punk during their rebellious teens. They may trudge through a terrain mined by hundreds of others over the past few years, but these boys elevate themselves above the tight-trousered rabble currently squabbling for a piece of the music pie thanks to a serious knack for melody that carves out a toe-tapping niche of its own.
Leave it to of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes to make the biggest splash on what is already an impressive night. Since his well-documented Norwegian breakdown and the album documenting the event, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer, Barnes has been on a psychedelic-pop-disco tear that’s earned him kudos from various critical corners. Famously transforming his recent North American gigs into a glitter rock, electro pomp spectacle that occasionally features the man putting his family jewels on full display for all to see, Barnes and co certainly live up to the visual hype tonight in London.
Looking like a battered army of psychedelic soldiers who’ve been hiding in the hills since the end of the ‘60s, the band play the shambolic electro-tinged pop of ‘Suffer for Fashion’ and ‘Heimdalsgate like a Promethean Curse’ like a well-configured machine. Surrounded by his mishmash of Beach Boys harmonies and tinny beats, Barnes channels the spirit of Ziggy-era Bowie and early Prince at his raunchiest into the role of a 21st century indie pop star jester. The man at one point even sports a long, rainbow-coloured patchwork gown that, when standing on a ladder at the front of the stage, transforms Barnes into a 10ft tall acid-loving alien priest from outer space inviting everyone to come and have a snog at the intergalactic bash he’s throwing back at his place.
It’s an oddball, sexed-up, dirty disco pop affair that leaves the crowd panting for more. By the end of it all, a spent-looking Barnes has only one thing left to say before exiting the stage for the final time: “London, you make me so hard.” It’s a cheeky comment, but damn if it doesn’t sum up the attention grabbing lunacy of his performance perfectly.
Photograph by Rennie Solis
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