Blonde Redhead (with Connect 4 Orchestra & Bambi)
Temple Bar Music Centre, 4 June 2000
Operating on my girlfriend's body clock is always a major mistake. She's like some cat that sleeps all the time, thinks public events will be held up for her benefit. So it was when she arrived back from her holidays as I'm going through the mother and father of bank holiday weekends. I had also given up cigarettes and two friends up from the country need entertaining in Dublin.
Sloping around town on Sunday afternoon, the country boys wanting to buy tickets for the gig later on - like it's going to be sold out or something - this isn't Godspeed we're talking about. My stress levels start to rise. Any way the TMBC can't even seem to sell us any (it later transpires that no-one in the place understands the concept).
Back to the wrong body clock... We go to check out another band playing in Caf?Mocha, and arrive after they've finished, then we arrive at The Hugh Lane Gallery to see the Francis Bacon exhibition just as its closing. So much for a big cultural day out. Pints in Parnell Mooneys, the Palace and The Ha'penny Bridge Inn is as good as it gets.
I'm back on the fags by the time we get back to the Temple Bar Music Centre and feeling much better about myself. Doors open 7.30 and the door policy seems to be "get there on time we'll let you get in for free". Michael and John the country boys are delighted with this form of lig. I'm more disgruntled as I bought tickets in Road Records the previous day.
OK, now we start feasting on alt.rock.
I'd been hearing a lot about Connect Four Orchestra, and despite the slothful girlfriend, they were the reason to be there on time. They sounded much as I expected, melodic wispy little tunes fleshed out by five members with beautiful guitars, some sort of moog keyboard and a multi-instrumentalist drummer. This is nice. I think. But it's not very punk is it? A nice sense of melody is cool but it's a bit wet. Nicely executed but very little feeling. They don't have any lyrics so I make up my own, humming along to their little tunes 'back on the fags, I got a dependency, my Daddy pays for me.'
Bambi, however, do rock, and rock good. The lead singer gyrates, the bass player menaces, the band are extremely sharp and tight, spiked tunes and anger. They got a bucket of feeling from the Connect Four crowd.
Blonde Redhead are why we are here, and we discuss how empty the place is. They're not famous or anything but even Melt Banana had a bigger crowd. Blah Blah Sunday, blah bank holiday blah Public Enemy.
Visually, they have some serious advantages. A very tall Japanese lead singer being one, and identical twin Italian Brothers comprising the rest of the band being another. Also, saying 'Hi thanks for coming its our first time here, We're from New York,' makes them immediately cool to me.
Think Sonic Youth 'round about EVOL (in fact the band were initially produced by Steve Shelley from The Youth). Think a little bit of Buffalo Daughter. Think really good guitar playing. Think noisy. Think avant-garde Japanese vocals. Do not think about Yoko Ono. Think about the kind of tightness probably only identical twins can have. In fact the best, hardest tunes are played only with a guitar and drums.
Several times, Kazu Makino asks the crowd what they think of the sound - 'Did you hear that feedback? Was it just me?' You can only get away with this noise rock if you can be completely perfectionist, the songs never breakdown into aural sludge, it's always fresh and interesting, some of it is even sweet. I'm beginning to think that bass is completely unnecessary, they use a six string version, that is strummed like a guitar instead of plucked.
The band play a long set, mostly stuff from their new album 'Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons' or so we're told, I haven't heard it yet, but must purchase said same.
Later on we're shuffled round again and end up hanging on for the Supermonkey night featuring Hi-Rise, I've reviewed them here before and liked them more then. After watching something so great just twenty minutes previous leaves me less receptive to their funky Austin Powers groove.
They do segue in nicely with the DJ music in the club and cleverly groove out of it again at the end of their set, but in between it's an uninspired funk rock with some inspired haircuts, the singer's voice didn't suit me either. Maybe some other night when my cool radar isn't as finely tuned I'll like them again.
'Hi thanks for coming, I'm from New York'