Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin and Underground RailroadEdit this event
Summer has, it seems, arrived: following an afternoon on Brighton beach, DiS is sweating again in the company of absolute strangers in the back room of a London theatre pub. We’re sticky and smelly and we’ve not really eaten properly – our bellies are full of seaside chips out of a tray and 99s with flakes – but that’s not stopping us rocking. Initially.
Because, as brilliant a trio of I.M.P. purveyors as The Thermals are – that’s Intelligent Melodic Punk, oh yes, and it’s ours – their single dimension of sound does, in the current, close (as those a little older than DiS might say) circumstances, does wear a little bit thin. The tinest bit. We like the Portland trio, really; but tonight, with a day’s worth of filth clogging our pores, we’re unable to fully let ourselves go. And standing at the back, swiftly-warming pint in palm, is not the correct way to experience The Thermals.
Prior to The Thermals’ rapturously received arrival on stage – for all of DiS’s discomforts, the crowd reaction is among the best we’ve witnessed at The Water Rats in a really long time – the first few the door are treated to a set of pristine indie-pop courtesy of Missouri-spawned four-piece Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Their run-through of material from their debut long-player of last year, Broom, is met with smiles and genuine appreciation; although they’re propping the bill tonight, they exhibit all the qualities of a band who could, a release down the line, fill venues three times this size in a headline capacity. ‘What We’ll Do’ is blissfully sweet, and ‘Oregon Girl’ recalls Weezer’s most love-struck moments – i.e., when they were at their peak, somewhere between blue and Pinkerton.
The Yeltsin boys – who, songs aside, are all but silent on stage – are followed by the rather more confrontational sounds of London-based French three-piece Underground Railroad. With grunge undercurrents always bubbling below the surface of their boisterous, drummer-guided songs, the One Little Indian-signed outfit do sound a little dated. But such is their obvious enthusiasm and love of performing live that we’ll forgive them a few echoes of greater acts past. ‘Hollywood Whore’, while far from lyrically brilliant, is thunderous enough to have the more delicate members of the audience retreating to the street for a little respite; even from here, though, their window-rattling rock’s sufficiently attention-grabbing.
Hutch Harris leads his troops out under blazing lights and into the kind of heat that’d make a cactus wilt. He’s chirpy, beaming of smile and bright of eyes throughout; The Thermals’ bassist Kathy Foster bounces on the spot as the band tear through a selection of tracks sourced from albums current and previous. Recent single ‘A Pillar Of Salt’ is an obvious standout, and receives the sing-along treatment from the hardcore acolytes in attendance. DiS, though, can stick it out only (!) for ten or so songs – our eyelids are heavy and skin dirty. We need a wash, or a damp flannel at least. Since none are available at The Water Rats, we head north to our own bathrooms.
Hardly rock and roll behaviour really, is it? But remember: this was all about the I.M.P.. Seriously, that’s ours and you can’t have it.
Photograph by Louise Yeandle
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