Naked. Prone. Stripped. Bare. Uncovered. Fortunately not a scene from the new Keane video, but the musical talent that was on show at Clash’s curated evening at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, in partnership with Nudie Jeans, at the start of March.
In January we forged this friendship to present a handful of the most promising bands of 2009 to our hungry readers. Rounding them up onto an exclusive download album and getting the finest scribes to doctor their opinions, we laid the land for a showcase of potential on a blustery Monday night where music wrapped its sexy legs around its perfect bedfellow: fashion.
Newcomers Let’s Wrestle open proceedings with the sort of set that sacrifices pauses for breath in favour of rocking the early doors attendees this way and that with punch-drunk anthems for disaffected youths seeking salvation in sing-along hedonism. The trio’s canon of work encompasses echoes of slacker-vibe indie-rockers of the 1990s – insert Guided By Voices and Pavement here – but their delivery is so gleefully playful, and the lyricism so inventively oddball, that all touchstones are forgotten and one can only belt out the words to lo-fi could-be classics like ‘…Man With Pica Syndrome’ (Google it) and ‘I’m In Fighting Mode’. ‘I Won’t Lie To You’, meanwhile, is a song that keeps on giving, every airing seeming more brilliant than the last – tonight, it has a handful of admirers in the grasp of its catchiness, its grip tighter than the efforts of many an alleged peer. Accessible, at times acerbic, and just a little absurd, Let’s Wrestle’s boisterous indie-pop ticks all the boxes one requires for a cracking night out.
Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club is a legend in its own life. Featured in countless films and shoots, this venue is as ramshackle as it is charmed. This aura of fame effortless glides over Ulterior, the second band, whose deep and mottled intro promises some delicious and murky depths. As a four-piece they endeared with their flagrant rock paraphernalia. Black cut-off vests? Check. Axl Rose headband? Check. Ability to get tangled up in the backdrop? Check.
And so Ulterior chase the ghosts of their rock gods through their young yet promising songs. It’s well-trodden ground, but a formula that’s proven to work to epic proportions, if their timings fall well. With unrestrained vocals over a conventional rhythm section and an occasional swerve to sound like Simple Minds, perhaps the stadiums will soon come to match the headbands.
Headliners The Soft Pack however are why most brave this exquisite school night. Having quickly poked their melodic noses ahead of the rest of the densely jiggling musical pack of 2009, many metropolitans seem keen to filter the hype from the real deal.
Formerly called The Muslims – they eventually conceded that this name might bring more trouble than its controversy would bring attention – now ALL the emphasis is on their stripped-back rock and roll. With the jaunty angles of Blur, the fast nonchalance of The Doors and the prattle-stop-start structure of quick-fire punk, The Soft Pack are captivating for their energy alone.
Their songs ‘Parasite’, ‘Extinction’ and ‘Beside Myself’ are distinctly American yet shot through with the band’s own urgency and young verve. Occasionally they step back for their drummer to rule in a percussive blitz, laying down their need to abduct your attention whilst in other moments their wholesome sound could lure much older generations into love.
In short it is super-charged rock and roll; it’s not going to turn the world on its head but it’ll make you shake about more than most and live through a thousand feelings in every fast thrashed riff of their guitar strings.
Words: Tim Scrapings
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To check out The Soft Pack and download the rest of the Nudie Naked Talent bands simply visit our special Nudie Naked Talent microsite HERE.
To see some amazing photos from the event itself just click HERE!