Bombay Bicycle Club
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- Audio, Brighton »
Could 2009 be the year in which Bombay Bicycle Club, titans of the teen-indie scene, finally enter the mainstream? If they manage to keep it together long enough to put out a full length album one can easily imagine it becoming the blissed out soundtrack to the summer, as Vampire Weekend’s debut was for so many last year. People have been calling this one for ages but with GCSEs, AS’s and finally A-levels dispensed with, what’s really stopping them now?
Everyone - from the middle class housewives of Sussex (I personally witnessed a drunken kitchen full of them dancing along to the band’s latest single – a distressing sight), to the yoof of Brighton and your best mate’s little sister - is talking them up, creating a hurricane of word-of-mouth hype. Add to that the host of high-profile festival appearances lined up for them this summer and they look set to cross over in exactly the way fellow North Londoners Cajun Dance Party so spectacularly didn’t.
If they were in the crowd you wouldn’t give them a second glance but the instant they start to play, their raw talent smacks you full on and forces you into submission. With influences ranging from Broken Social Scene to Hot Chip they come across more like a fun Interpol, or an infinitely more listenable Tokyo Police Club, pulling off shout-a-long choruses while maintaining just enough innovation and quirk to keep their cool.
The band has developed an impressive sense of nuance since their straightforward indie-rock beginnings; the opening bars of ‘Sixteen’ are peppered with pretty little sweet-picked arpeggios and ‘Always Like This’, their sun-kissed new single, is a goldmine of clever samples and subtle vocal loops. They do a natty line in free promotional condoms too.
It's about halfway through ‘Open House’ that the crowd really start to lose their shit, chucking handbags and coats to the floor and crawling over each other like pubescent snakes in a dank, sweaty pit. The groupies of tomorrow viciously elbow and (literally) back-bite their way to the front. Jack Steadman, the band’s charismatic singer, shuffles awkwardly around the stage, like a broken puppet, pouring vocals as tortured as his fans’ angsty teenage souls into the silver microphone. With a truly idiotic grin plastered across his face and eyes glazed over like a character from Trainspotting his anguished vibrato puts you in mind of a morose Devendra Banhart or a seriously strung out Marc Bolan.
The night ends with firm fan favourite ‘How Are You?’. A testament to Steadman’s understated, less-is-more approach, the song perfectly encapsulates the mixture of awkwardness and regret that follows a one-night stand, as well as being a totally banging tune. As the crowd whip themselves up into an orgiastic, floor shaking frenzy BBC ramp up the gigawatts, rocking out so wildly the bassist almost commits hara-kiri with his own guitar. By the time they arrive at their roaring climax the singer’s gleeful grin has become truly infectious. Bring on the summer of Bombay Bicycle Club.
Bombay Bicycle Club are playing Hidden Gigs on 2nd June in support of the homelessness charity Crisis. For info and tickets see crisis.org.uk/hidden
Photo by Atze de Vrieze
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