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In which I blather on at length about last night’s Whitest Boy Alive gig at the Hoxton Bar & Grill.
Between my wee fat cat developing a heart murmur and my car dying on me I had lost all enthusiasm for a night out in Shoreditch but finally after some cajoling (mainly from my girlfriend who I suspect wanted the flat to her herself) I found myself turning into Hoxton Square and instantly regretting my decision as I was confronted by a queue outside the Bar & Grill that appeared to stretch into neighbouring Dalston. So far, so Modular.
Repairing to the Barley Mow for a quick constitutional, I was soon feeling fortified enough to face the queue which by now ended somewhere in the home counties. Luckily writing a blog seens to bestow upon yourself an aura that was formerly reserved for absolute monarchs in feudal societies and we were swiftly ushered inside, only to find a second queue snaking through the venue and which had degenerated into essentially a well dressed scrum.
By now my intense dislike of crowds/people was beginning to rear its ugly head but for the sake of journalistic integrity I figured it was worth fighting our way through the crowds to see the band rather than just make it all up. Easier said than done and by the time we actually made it inside the inner sanctum we’d missed Grovesnor‘s brief (4 songs apparently) set and only caught the final 2 songs of an act I couldn’t really appreciate as I was by now pinned over the bar and was being administered what felt like tough prison love from several strangers in the crowd.
Ass pounding over and beer in hand I felt ready to enjoy the show and as if on cue The Whitest Boy Alive shuffled on stage, quite a sight really. From left to right we had, on keyboards Daniel Nentwig, who gives of the vibe of a mid eighties gay porn star, clean cut, slightly preppy and probably armed with a devastating cock, Erland Oye on guitar, blatantly the bastard son of Woody Allen, bassist Marcin Oz who has the simple rough hewn good looks of a bavarian farmhand and keeping time on the drums, Sebastian Maschat a strange deshelled tortoise/computer programmer hybrid. Be in no doubt it’s a strong look.
Killer styles or not though when your crowd are pinned in a seeting sauna of bodies you need more than just that to get you by and luckily for them they had plenty more. It’s soon obvious why Modular have picked them up, they may not come at you with the buzzsaw synths of MSTRKRFT or have New Young Pony Club‘s radio friendly agit-pop but what they do have is a fine set of honely crafted soulfull disco, gradually building up insistent grooves into tight, tautly woven tracks over which they sparingly use Erland’s heartbreakingly tender vocals.
“Is everybody cool?” asks Erland half way through the set, of course not you fool, I long to shout out, sweating like a waterlogged ham (© Justin Quirk), but the crowd seem to be loving every minute of it and they must be feeling the heat on stage too as Mr Devastator has stripped down to a vest and our strapping young farmboy swaps t-shirts eliciting a wave of girly squeaks from both male and female sections of the audience.
And then just as we’ve worked ourselves into some space, the music is great and the gig actually starts resembling something akin to being fun, tragedy strikes and we are a man down. My companion for the night, Tony Poland, having got stuck in to several pints of lager can take no more and makes a quick break for the toilets, no easy task when just moving your arms is a mission in itself. Finally he breaks free and is sucked up into the sweating throng disappearing from sight like some new rave Captain Oates. We’ll not know his like again, etc etc.
Soldiering on we can begin to sense that the end is in sight, the band reel out the now obligatory mid nineties ritzy house classic with a cover of Show Me Love by Robin S. which the crowd oblige with a predictably Pavlovian response. Must be a bittersweet moment when the biggest reaction of the night is for someone elses tune and as if keen not to be upstaged by a throwaway cover the band kick into their best and probably most well known song Burning, a brilliantly upbeat yet ever so slightly melancholy track that has more than a hint of being some long forgotten mid eighties Cure b-side to it and that prompts a spectacularly crap stage invasion.
5 minutes of sublime disco-punk-pop later the band have left the stage and we’re half way to the exit. Encore or not my lungs can taste freedom and fresh air and I need a pint and a sit down. All in all it looks like Modular have another success on their hands though this was probably one of the least risky decisions they will have made recently. The band are as great live as they are on vinyl though after tonight I’ll be waiting till next Summer to catch the band again, hopefully playing in a field in the sunshine rather than risk more brusing of internal organs at the pointy elbows of a hundred fashion trolls.
Just for the record though the object below is a clicker counter, thoughout my promoting career I found it an invaluable tool for instantly working out how much money I’d lost on a particular night. The thing is they’re also really useful for making sure your venue isnt massively over full, they’re pretty cheap too it might be worth someone investing in a couple.
And just re-reading through all that I realise what a miserable old git I sound like. The Whitest Boy Alive are good, very good and if you don’t already own their album Dreams I’d seriously recommend heading over to their website now and buying it or failing that waiting for the new edition on Modular.
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