The Strange Boys @ The Globe, Cardiff

2010-06-28 | |

On a hot summer night, would you... Wait a minute, this neither involves Meatloaf, or the Wolf with the Red Roses. It's just the sweat-drenched sauna that was The Strange Boys at The Globe, Cardiff. Hailing from Austin, TX, and having just performed at Glastonbury's 40th anniversary, the band were freshfaced and eager to put on a show. It's just a shame that in such an intimate venue, the main thing on everyone's minds (and brows) was the sweltering heat which either stuck you to your seat, or kept you spending at the bar.

The opening act, Cardiff's very own The Method, were the result of what happens when five unhinged gentlemen with a penchant for trumpets, organs, and chaos in general, take the general layout of music and turn it on its head. There was definitely a tinge of the punk here, as well as the psychadelic, and the funky. Having seen guitarist Johnny perform solo as Johnny Alchemist, I sort of knew what to expect, but, even then I was blown away by the depth, the structure, and the overall showmanship put into such a set - it wasn't big and flash, but it had all the charisma needed to play a much bigger stage, to a much bigger audience - the solid, groovy basslines; the underlying darkness given away by the synth; the indescribabilty (not a word - Ed.) of it all... And when they finally gave way to Sex Beet, I must admit I was ready to rock, and possibly roll.

What was then brought to the stage was a shambling minimalist performance in all senses of both words. The three appeared mismatched, as though they had fallen through a thrift store on the way in, and when they finally tried to grace us with music, it actually wasn't all that good. Think The Horrors if they did songs by Bombay Bicycle Club, and the bassist was dead. Then you'd be in the right ballpark, but you'd still be digging for the metaphorical hidden body. Generally, aside from the helium-esque qualities of the vocals, it sounded as though it was half-baked - it was too noisy to be 'punk' but too pop to be 'noise rock'. I don't know if the levels should be blamed (by that, the tech guy...) or the band. In the end, a bad workman always blames his tools - so I must regretfully brand these as a band to give a miss next time they're on a bill...

Thankfully, when they disappeared back into the crowd, the stage gave way to what can only be described as rockabilly sensibilities. Though the general genre-range of the crowd was 'indie', these guys stood out like a sore thumb - and were all the better for it. Gingham shirts, denim jeans, white undershirts; all they needed was some greased back hair and a toothpick and I'd be sure there was some stereotyping going on. However, looks aside, what The Strange Boys brought to the stage was in fact the best piece of rock'n'roll ever - it lived by the DIY ethic, layering it with rockabilly, and general caterwauling to great effect. Even the saxophone of ex-Mika Miko Jenna Thornhill was greatly appreciated (personally).

Though what do you say about a band that's working a sound that seems to be making a possible comeback? You've got the polished traditionalism of The Baseballs and the classy pin-up girl in Imelda May. What you get from the Strange Boys, as evidenced last night, is a sense of "down-to-Earth garage band". If Buddy Holly had been born that little bit later, I think this is what his music would have sounded like. It's all evidenced in how straightforward their set was last night - some songs, some crowd interaction; generally a traditional "band", which is a refreshing thought knowing that they'd already played Glastonbury.

Overall it was a night of ups and downs. Well worth seeing The Method, slightly marred by Sex Beet, but the mood certainly picked up amidst the punk-try and western hoedown that was The Strange Boys. Honestly, I'd go and see them again any day.


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