On the surface the shows that I run… co-run (sorry Ed) at The Victoria under the name Songs of Praise may seem like just another music event. Actually it is more than that. It is a way of smuggling in bands that we really think need to be brought to Swindon’s attention between a couple of more palatable acts, palatable according to the tribute band, retrospective and “I support live music, provided my mate happens to be the bassist” attitude that prevails. A sort of underground railroad for what we consider more interesting bands. And so it was last night.
Headliners, Yves, are a very competent indie band, they play it fairly straight but have decent enough tunes and appeal to a wide cross section of the music going public. There is nothing about them that you can criticise, but my tastes lay somewhere more leftfield. Openers Sahara Heights are more up my street, referencing the shimmering shoegaze of the late eighties with a few earlier post-punk musical moves thrown in for good measure.
And with those two solid ends to the structure we can offer up something a bit weirder and get a decent audience in front of them. After all, if we put Oui Legionnaires on stage as the one and only band on the bill and the audience would consist of the two organisers and a guy who wandered in asking for directions to the open mic. night at The Regent, “my mates playing, he’s the bassist with Mike Bland and the Ordinaries, they sound like an early James Blunt, you should check them out.”
So to the collective amusement/bemusement/amazement of a reasonable crowd, three Cheltenham oddballs fired off angular punked up, puzzle-pop (no, I don’t know what that means either, it just seems to fit) with brilliant titles such as the eloquent “Dear Charlie Please Write a Hilarious Title For This Song, Lots of Love Chris” and the slightly less poignant “Fuck You Nottingham.” It’s the perfect clash of punk attitude and pop sensibilities but pop-punk it is not, no backwards baseball caps of oversized guitarists wearing long shorts and hockey shirts, this is more The Fall meets Dinosaur Jr. if you can imagine such a thing. It was weird and it was great.
All at £3 for the night, a pound a band, or ten pence a musician or about 3 pence per guitar string. Good value for money I reckon. But not according to the crusty couple who tried to barge in without paying.
Me ”Hi, guys that’s £3”
Dog on A String Man “you’re joking”
Me ”no, £3 each please”
Me “yes, £3”
Dogman “ can’t we negotiate?”
Me “No, it’s £3” (holding three fingers up to make the point)
Dogman “£3 for both of us then?”
Me ”look it’s £3 that’s a quid a band, how else do you think we pay them?”
Dogman ”Nah, I’m not paying that”
Me” thanks for coming” (opens door and suggests they leave as they are holding up the queue)
So much for supporting live music.