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The Pains of Being Pure At Heart / Male Bonding / Allo Darlin' London, Scala
Article written by
Paul M - Dec 13, 2009
Is this the largest UK venue POPBAH have headlined in? If so, they’ve certainly made the step up as the Scala must hold about seven hundred and it’s rammed. It all seems far removed from the days of performing in tiny pubs to a handful of us. The audience has changed too. Now it’s not just those hardcore early adopters but also the kind of people who seem to only frequent the larger venues. The folk who spend the gigs talking among themselves and the couples in the early stage of their relationships who seem more interested in exploring each others gums than anything happening on stage. Maybe it’s because I’m twelve rows… TWELVE rows!... from the front that I find these morons in front of me. Even from here, the band still look great though; skinny, raven haired and gorgeous to a man (and one woman). The lucky bastards. They churn out the album tracks and singles in a fifty minute set and throw in a number of new tracks too. They still don’t say much and barely even look at the audience. The older material, chiefly built on the foundations of the coolest 80s Brit indie, has people singing along. Most couple the fuzz of the Mary Chain with the melodies of the Smiths to lush effect. One sounds so much like Orange Juice it almost spits pips along with its jangly rhythms while another has a very distinct Cure bassline thrusting it along. It gives hope that despite being snapped up by a bigger label, they haven’t gone away to write songs with more mainstream appeal (see Voxtrot’s doomed attempt to emulate the Killers for a horrific example…).
The rest of the night was enjoyable too. Openers and current Fortuna Pop labelmates Allo Darlin have the task of facing the relatively sober early arrivers. Fortunately there’s enough of us to suggest they are slowly gathering a fanbase of their own and their set is strong enough to warm us up nicely. Elizabeth Morris sings of punk gigs but her band are poppy, sweet and quite beguiling; her uke giving their indiepop a pleasant folky feel. They are followed by Male Bonding, who are Mr Chalk to Allo Darlin’s Mrs Gorgonzola. They thrash. They leap around. One of them has a bobble hat. Another disappears under his blonde curtains. They play daft punk - not the French electronica whizzes but catchy tunes that are enjoyable and squawky. They’ve just signed to Sub Pop, which kind of figures. I’m not sure everyone here appreciated them but they sure blow a few cobwebs off a few fusty anoraks.