Rx Bandits – Leeds Josephs Well

By paul

People piss me off. There I said it. I’ve been waiting to say it for a while, mainly as I’m a grumpy old man, but last night I was finally given the ammunition to vent my anger. The Rx Bandits, one of Drive Thru Records’ best bands, visited Leeds as part of their UK tour and a meagre 40-odd people could be arsed to leave their home to watch the show. It would seem that too many people are happy sitting on their arse bitching about why bands don’t come to their town, why such and such a band is shit, why ‘punk’ music is stale etc But these seem people who moan and complain do so from the comfort of their own bedroom. When a great band does come and play, they don’t turn up. They moan. Was it too expensive? No, ¶œ6 is great value and if you’re skint, maybe you should quit using the net and save some money from your phone bill. And for anyone using the excuse it’s too far to travel, I travelled 90 miles to see the band. It’s no wonder why bands play 3-date UK tours or promoters charge ¶œ10+ to see bands sometimes. Next time you moan you only have yourself to blame.

With that rant over, I’ll get on with the review. Local pop-punkers ARTIZAN start the evening off playing to a crowd of about 10 people. There’s absolutely no interaction by either band or crowd and the set is completely flat. Musically they are a Blink 182 covers band playing b-sides – it’s enjoyable stuff for the first two or three songs, but after that the same recycled riffs become hard to stomach. Having seen them play a few weeks earlier I was disappointed because the vocals were far worse on this occasion with way too many bum notes. Maybe it was a bad night and I’m sure the lack of atmospherics didn’t help, but on this showing the report card says ‘average, must try harder’. (5)

THE EXIT have come across from New York and play a brand of emo/post-hardcore that would probably make an NME journo stain his Y-fronts. Any band that starts with ‘The’ reminds me of that funny Sum 41 video that takes the piss out of The Strokes and The Hives etc and to follow the cliche there’s nothing particularly exciting about the band. To be honest it’s the same stuff that every single band in the genre have ever put out – and unfortunately some of the UK bands (stand up Jerry-Built and MAC) do it far better. The odd song does strike you as being reasonably good on first listen, and I’m sure the album is worthy of checking out, but there’s nothing that bites you on the bollocks and screams “listen”. Having said that, the next time they entertain the UK they will probably have had a hit vid on MTV2 and a front page in an aforementioned magazine…(7)

I love the RX BANDITS. Their last record, ‘Progress’, was one of the most inventive and original I’d heard in ages and easily one of the top 3 cds that Drive Thru has ever released. Mixing elements of ska and reggae and fusing them with some rather delicious melodies, their socio-political lyrics are far more interesting and effective than the simple Dubya-bashing that many Yank bands are currently sporting. The Well is treated to a sublime RxB performance as the band stick mainly to the ‘Progress’ blueprint to entertain the one-fifth full (at best) crowd. ‘VCG3’ and ‘All The Time’ are gems, while oldie ‘What If’ is bashed out with gusto. ‘In All Rwanda’s Glory’ and the single ‘Analog Boy’ see the hardened few sing along with Matt at the front, but despite the six on stage whipping up a storm there’s hardly a single move on the floor. The highlights for me were a blinding ‘Progress’ and the closing ‘Infection’, both of which fuse everything the band do well, throwing in a large dollop on energy too. At times RxB fuse elements of jazz, mixing the songs up to create a kind of free-form feel – there’s a lack of structure which surprisingly fits well – and you can forgive the complete lack of crowd interaction because of this. RxB are a fantastic live band and ones to check out, so get off your arse and see a show. (9)

Despite an embarrasingly low turnout the folks at the Well should be congratulated for booking the show at short notice. I sincerely hope it doesn’t affect their booking policy in future. And for those who missed out, you only have yourselves to blame when promoters call it quits in your town. You have been warned.