The Wants / Happy Couple – Lexington, 27 February 2020

Why Want The Wants? Because it’s your chance to surrender to a life punctuated by comically small beanies, song deficits and trips to the bathroom with all of your favourite guys.

Apparently I’m not talented enough to capture how much The Wants are into Twin Peaks

This Wednesday, I saw The Wants at the Lexington. They’re a New York post-punk band, who are apparently “Led by [an] elusive duality of personas, which oscillate between earnestly romantic and unsettlingly deadpan.” Two-thirds of the band are also in art rock five-piece, Bodega, which explains some of the current buzz about them. Perhaps that’s why they’re able to describe themselves with such style

The Wants are currently promoting the upcoming release of their debut album, Container, out on 13 March 2020. Wednesday’s show was supported by Happy Couple.

They Want The Wants

I didn’t pay to see the show. My girlfriend had an extra ticket. 

I wasn’t her first choice of company. She’d planned to go with a friend. Apparently, sometimes they both treat the process of buying gig tickets as a seduction raffle. In this case, the prize was a chance to bag The Wants’ unconventionally handsome, Madison Velding-VanDam. However, when the aforementioned friend discovered that DIIV, an apparently prettier band, were playing the same night, she took the plunge and my girlfriend was left treading water with me. 

I hadn’t listened to anything released by The Wants prior to the gig, so I went in cold. 

However, having now listened to everything they’ve got on Spotify (on repeat); the Motor, Fear My Society, Clearly A Crisis and Container; I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re actually pretty cool, albeit, there’s not a whole lot to go on.

While I was listening to The Wants, my flatmate compared them to Butthole Surfers. Considering his playlists are dominated by Adele and Billie Eilish, it isn’t the worst comparison. But I’d say they’re more like Talking Heads, with an engine running on ambient techno and a quirk suppressor (they’d take it off, but these days, the environment’s a big issue).

Canned Curiosity

Before the show had even started, the merchandise stand became a talking point. 

Instead of stacks of 12” LPs and cassettes, the shop window was piled high with cans of tinned food, unlabelled. Despite the obvious guess being that this was to help attendees self-isolate in the event they contracted Coronavirus at the gig, it turned out to be a cool way to add physicality to preordering The Wants upcoming album Container.

What better preorder incentive than a little apocalypse cuisine?

I was severely disappointed to learn that all of the cans contained peas. Word of advice The Wants, next consider the possibility of a couple of cans of Fray Bentos.

Who’s The Happy Couple?

First to play were female-fronted, three-piece Happy Couple. They kicked it off with a frenetic, bass-driven, noise rock set. 

So, when are you guys moving in together?

Happy Couple offered a selection of songs that were a tauter, more accessible, take on Kim Gordon-led efforts from Sonic Youth’s major label era. While there’s often a tendency for noise rock to sound a bit samey, Happy Couple delivered plenty of diversity. Altogether, a pretty sound support.

What About The Wants?

Headliners, The Wants ran through a limited catalogue with a certain poise. 

The set was short. Really short. Departure time was 22:00, even with the encore. Similarly, every song ended impressively abruptly, as if it was a theme.

Live, The Motor was slick. It was also charming to see frontman, Madison Velding-VanDam so VanDam-elated, making considerable use of the confined space. On the night, his onstage antics seemed to be taking cues from a certain David Bryne’s brand of bizarre. 

But I want to see The Wants!

While his enthusiasm did nothing to propagate the promise of deadpan, it worked, with the exception of Fear My Society. It sounded a bit like someone reciting keywords from a Medium article, losing a bit of its otherwise stirring atmosphere of the recording. That’s to say, I was initially turned off the song during the gig, but arrived at liking it.

I shouldn’t forget that my girlfriend thought the show’s highlight was bassist Heather Elle’s Wednesday Adams dress. Given that I know even less about dresses than I do about music, I’ll refrain from providing an opinion.

Conformity of Cool

Forgetting The Wants, one of the most striking things about the gig was the conformity of the crowd. 

It was like walking down Broadway Market on a Saturday.

A sea of tea-pot-cosy inspired hats, more mullets than I care to mention, the heavy stench of that scent every girl in east London wears (you know the one I’m talking about), leather trousers, moustaches and those dangly cross earrings. I guess it happens with fad, but this really seems to be a uniform.

“I’m more of an All Day Breakfast Kinda Guy. Can’t you tell? That’s why my teapot-warmer, I mean beanie, is brown and I have moustache to disguise my disfigured upper lip.”

Now, while I’ll admit I wasn’t there because I adore The Wants, it felt like I wasn’t the only one. Despite the evident draw of the band, it was as if the majority of the crowd were there because this could, for all intents and purposes, be perceived as a Bodega side-project, making attendance less of a risk (in terms of maximising cool time) than another band may be.

Standing in the crowd, it felt at times like everyone was auditioning for a leading role in the next Churchill advert, ominously nodding their heads to songs they weren’t familiar with.

I don’t write this to be judgemental, or maybe I do. But there wasn’t the vibe that people were there to see a band they liked. I’m guilty of this too, but I think the atmosphere suffered.

Perhaps that’s why there were so many boys going to the bathroom in threes. 

You know, so they could complement each other on their facial grooming techniques while washing their hands.

BODEGA @ Moth Club – Three Free Gigs #10

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week, I try and go to three.

The rating system’s simple: how many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

10. BODEGA @ Moth Club, London

Friday, 9 August 2019

“Truth is not punishment,” so let’s be honest, who was actually disappointed about the cancellation of Boardmasters?

If you haven’t guessed it, no one who was at Moth Club last night.

No one dances, writes, or fights, or fucks or makes love quite like me – Bodega @ Moth Club, 9 August 2019

That’s because Bodega, New York art-punk five-piece (or whatever else you want to call them) graced Hackney with a surprise, and importantly FREE, appearance at Moth Club, thanks to high winds off the Cornish coast.

I’d go into a rant about how much I hate Cornwall here, but I can’t be bothered, so insert your own joke about pasties and inbreeding.

Ahead of the release of their latest record, the show was an expected, but delightfully executed affair – dominated by songs from their debut LP, Endless Scroll. There were a couple of new ones, including Shiny New Thing, and (I think this is the working title), ‘An actress who decides every move based on how people will regard it in the future’. It reminded me a lot of when I paid to see them at the Shacklewell Arms in February. Great performance, but like, not the best songs in the world.

Moth Club was hot, everyone was drenched in sweat, but Bodega’s performance was energetic, and they actually seemed happy to be playing. 

The band have spent a lot of time on the road, and they let the audience know it by dedicating Gyrate to everyone’s favourite band, Viagra Boys.

Other highlights included a cover of Silver Jews, Black and Brown Shoes, in memory of the recently deceased David Berman. Jack in Titanic, as always, was an epic tragedy. It’s a great song, but maybe they’ve played it too often, and like Titanic, maybe there are only so many times you can watch Leonardo Dicaprio sink.

Bodega ended the set with an extended jam that eventually morphed into Truth is not Punishment, with a lot of tired arms and a standing drummer with a nose bleed (or did my memory get warped because I follow Bodega so compulsively on instagram?).

Walking away from the stage, despite being way too sticky, it actually felt like arriving at a venue for 19:00 had been justified. And, thanks to closing at 21:30, everyone was left with a night full of opportunity, and sense of achievement.

Shame no one stayed for the Horror’s Rhys Webb’s DJ set, but I mean, it’s been five years Rhys, maybe everyone still going to Cave Club is a total loser.

 

4 Beers