Wolf Gang, Chad Valley, Trophy Wife & Yuck @ Liverpool Sound City 2011
To be completely honest, despite there being enough hype-laced writings about Chad Valley to make the amount of data seized from Bin Laden’s compound look like the rushed homework of a 12 year old, we weren’t expecting much. We definitely weren’t expecting his smooth balearic charm and his powerful and propulsive beats to hit with such poignancy. We weren’t expecting him to sound like what Friendly Fires would have sounded like if they’d turned towards their tropical tendencies rather than their popularist ones on their second album. And we really weren’t expecting for the Kazimier to be filled by such a striking and inescapably enormous voice every time he opened his mouth. Whether it be twiddly electronic trickery or not, it sounded undeniably perfect, leaving us with the conclusion that we really really didn’t expect; ironically, despite all of the hype, Chad Valley was the unexpected highlight of our first day at Sound City.
We’re still loving Wolf Gang, he wears top notch scarves, looks like a trustworthy sort of bloke, gives out free beer at his gigs, and as a sort of unnecessary bonus his music is even a constant reminder of what pop music should sound like. However. There’s a big however. This is a live review, and as such we’re supposed to just review how Wolf Gang sounded on one particular night in Liverpool at Mojo’s, and not babble on about how much we’re a fan of a guy. It hardly seems fair, but that’s just the way that this stuff works.
And to be totally honest, standing halfway into a room full if slightly surprisingly disinterested looking people, our ears weren’t totally blown away all of the time. We say all of the time, because at times they were, and at times Wolf Gang and his band were impressive, but they were crippled by a sound system that just refused to respond to them, and strangled their sound into an uncohesive mess whenever the expanded beyond Max’s evocative voice. Behind the underwhelming fuzz, though, were enormous pop songs which we’re still sure should be being heard by far, far more people, and we’re still sure that at some undefined point in the future, they will be. The King and All Of His Men by wolfgang
Yuck deserve a fawning review simply for being spotted on Seel Street, lying on the pavement on top of one another, smoking, and looking like the cutest shoegazing band ever. It’s at moments like that that you need a reliable photographer to get the perfect picture to end up on the cover of NME so that we could have milked the inevitable royalties for everything they were worth and spent our remaining days having the Sultan of Dubai serve us Dom Perignon, but at that particular moment my useless photographer* had chosen to forget his. All I have is the satisfaction of having shared the mental image with you, and to be honest, I would have preferred the champagne. No offence.
Anyway, contrary to the direction of the first paragraph, Yuck were actually present at Liverpool Sound City for the purposes of playing some of their music, which we have all already established is pretty amazing. If I was being a pedantic bastard I might argue that they had the easiest job at Sound City as the majority of the musical world is already a converted disciple to their fuzzy parable, but every note was still delivered with the verve and electricity of the record, but louder, more aggressively, and, well, when you can see that afro bobbing up and down enthusiastically, everything seems a few percent better. Probably because of the internet and scribblings like ours, there are more new bands than there are erupting Icelandic volcanoes, but very few have the quality to stick around for more than a few exciting but fleeting rounds on the hype machine. Tonight, a packed Kazimier saw that Yuck seem to have a maturity and a togetherness that hint that they really may be one of the more important bands of recent times; and even if they aren’t, at least they’re tricking sold out venues into thinking that they are, and that is all we can ask for.Shook Down by Yuck
I thought that I’d put Trophy Wife all the way down here because I’ve painstakingly recorded before here and here (and even here) that I’d like nothing more to coerce them into eloping to Venice with me, and perhaps by sticking them down here at least 50% of people will have become bored and will miss my most recent love paean to the band. Their set in the Kazimier could have been the scene of an ugly divorce, so whilst waiting for them to come on I was terrified that I was about to witness the shocking evidence of why the whole music industry hasn’t fallen so pathetically infatuated with them as I have, and in a strange way, I did. But not because they were disappointing. If anything, they were unexpectedly impressive; pounding out their precise Oxfordian foot-shuffling anthems with a musical confidence that was just summed up by the smile inducing sight of their brilliantly manic drummer enthusiastically doing everything but smash to pieces the home-made electronic drum kit in-front of him, all with a smile on his face like a 10-year-old who has just been told that every remaining day of his life will be Christmas Day.
What they exuded in musical confidence, though, they lacked in on-stage confidence, and as “Take This Night” removed another coat of paint from the Kazimier’s floor with all of the awkward foot shuffling going on, and “Microlite” provided conclusive evidence that Trophy Wife are, musically, a breathtaking live band, it also became clear that there’s good reason why my peers aren’t planning their next Valentine’s Day with Trophy Wife. It’s depressing, but true, most indie bands that you and I would consider to be very, very successful within their own “indie” context have a story and a certain charisma that might mean nothing musically, and it might even be that they’re musically far worse than Trophy Wife, but for now it at least might explain why Trophy Wife should be on the front page of every alternative music magazine in the country, but aren’t. More nights like tonight and very soon it will be their story being told, whatever that is, and as long as the result is that their mournful indie disco gets the recognition it deserves, then justice will be done.Trophy Wife – Microlite by Not Many Experts
*I say “photographer” like I’m the editor of the NME or something, so to avoid you all thinking I’m an arrogant twat, I should just clarify that I am, in fact, referring to my forgetful and disorganised (but loveable) friend Bish who happens to own a camera.
** You can also read a far more informed and complete analysis of Liverpool Sound City at http://peterguy.merseyblogs.co.uk/