Bomb the Music Industry – Brixton Academy, London

By paul

Tuesday 10 February, 20009
The Windmill, Brixton
Support: Dave House + Beat The Red Light + Sam Russo + F-Bats

There?s a small gathering every month or so that meets at the Brixton Windmill under the banner ?Staying South?. It?s an initiative set-up in part by Lil of Household Name Records to bring shows to the south of London. Tonight this reviewer makes his way from north of London battling snow, rush-hour commuters and the emergency closure of St Pancras to see what the fuss is about. Oh, and also to have a look at the eagerly anticipated Bomb The Music Industry! UK tour.

No longer Frank Butcher and the Slags, Hertfordshire?s re-monikered F-Bats just about manage to squeeze onto the Windmill?s small stage. Seriously it?s about the size of your average kitchen worktop. For roughly 20 minutes the octet pants its way through a set reminiscent of late 90?s skacore: four horns, three vocalists and a whole lot of energy. All in all it?s quite impressive and certainly a vast improvement on the last time this reviewer caught the band?s set. (3/5)

In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle before, a solitary Sam Russo takes to the stage and offers up an incredible set of acoustic punk tinged with that folk feel. Russo?s a part of that doom-and-gloom school of singer/songwriters that seem to be able to put their finger firmly on current affairs, politics, and life in general, whilst having you leave a show thinking. Grainy, sometimes nasal, and always hearty, this is high quality stuff, and proof that mixed bills can work amazingly well. This couldn?t be much further apart from F-Bats up-tempo bounce, yet the two set each other off tonight. (4/5)

The pace quickens again with Beat The Red Light, an eight-piece noise-monster from High Wycombe. In the vein of The Flaming Tsunamis and No Comply, there?s thrash, horns, huge riffs, surprising melodies and some ska tinkling. It?s an odd mash-up but it works, and how well, not least thanks to some incredible stage presence, albeit a rather compacted stage. Fast, brutal, pit-inciting: it?s a performance well worth catching down the road, preferably soon. (4/5)

Compared to the rest of the bill Dave House come across as a rather calm and gentile uncle. His vocals are near soothing compared to that before, a perfect match for the charming pop songs on display here. A fittingly nonchalant set is suited to the small venue where the South Londoner is treated like a returning hero, each lyric being sung back to him by the ?Banquet Choir? in the front row. (3/5)

So the bill has gone noisy/acoustic/noisy/acoustic, and now we get Bomb The Music Industry! Simply put, Jeff Rosenstock and his iPod is both of these manifested into one furious musical onslaught. It?s 19 days since Rosenstock was stuck in a New York airport rather than playing the Underworld but now he?s finally in the capital it?s proven to be well worth the wait.

First up, let?s address the criticism that this is an ?iPod? tour rather than full band. To the naysayer, Jeff Rosenstock and an iPod is still BTMI! Fact. Having seen the ?band? performing I can verify that the chaos, intensity and sense of occasion those eight/nine/ten band members brings is still on display tonight. And it?s displayed by the bucket load.

What we?re treated to is about 50 minutes of impromptu, pick ?n? mix, BTMI! songs, with a few covers thrown in, and a whole lot of audience participation. Sadly it?s not a full-on, plug your guitar in, fans-get-involved type of audience participation, but we do get an unofficial ?cheerleader? on stage, a young lady who kindly lends her vocals, and an even kinder gentleman who manages to throw-up on the stage. Rosenstock?s rebuttal: ?This will not continue until you clear this shit up. You?re an adult; you can?t just go around throwing up.? I do believe said mess was cleaned up.

Rosenstock is mobbed by the crowd throughout the set, at one stage setting up his microphone stand in the middle of the dance floor. There?s a point where you can?t see him for all the sweaty bodies hanging off his torso. Fantastic stuff.

So on the final night of the BTMI! tour we?re offered a party atmosphere more so than a regular gig. It?s not about being note perfect (although the iPod nearly gets this right) or clinically proficient. It?s about bringing the music to the people that want to hear it, and want to have fun with it. Tonight, fun has been abundant and the people of South London can head home knowing this. (4/5)

Alex Hambleton