Monday, 3 August 2015

Gig Review: The Smith Street Band at The Lexington 1/8/15

 I don't know if you know this but I love The Smith Street Band. In the past year and a bit I've have seen them on four separate occasions, more than any other band. Kind of ridiculous when you consider that they are based in Melbourne, Australia - on the other side of the world. Earlier this year it was announced that The Smith Street Band would be appearing at Reading and Leeds festivals, a massive milestone in the career of the band. I tossed and turned on the idea of going in my head for days as it would be an expensive day out and my good friends Chris and Marilyn are getting married the next day. Of course I decided to go, The Menzingers and Modern Baseball are also playing so that really sweetened the pot. A European tour was scheduled for the month before the festivals before finally two shows in London and Manchester were announced. After my trip to the Manchester Punk Festival I debated going to both shows, but sadly work and not being rich got in the way so I settled for just going to the London Show. This is what happened. 

The gig itself was at a new venue for me, The Lexington on Pentoville Road in Islington. When I arrived at Angel  I decided to grab some food before the gig so headed down to a nearby Chipolte, my favourite fast food restaurant. On my way there I walked past a man I recognised, it was none other than Wil Wagner, front man of The Smith Street Band. I really should have said hello but I became awfully star struck and bottled it. This has happened to me since the time I saw Crystal Palace legend Clinton Morrison at work.

The first band up were a newer band named Shit Present. Lead by Great Cynics bass lady Iona Cairns and featuring members of Gnarwolves and OK Pilot, I was expecting big things from this four piece. As much as I love Great Cynics it's fantastic to see Iona fronting her own band, she's a brilliantly talented singer and musician who deserves a huge amount of spotlight. Heck of a songwriter as well, all the songs played tonight were fun pop tinged indie punk played with a lot of spirit. Throw in a cover of my favourite Ergs song Pray For Rain and you've got a awesome set from a band destined to do very very well for themselves. I cannot wait for their first release later this year.

Shit Present were followed up by another female fronted band - Exeter's Muncie Girls. Wil made this point when he was on stage how awesome it is to not only have two female fronted bands on stage but them being absolutely brilliant bands. This was my fifth time seeing Muncie Girls and I have to say that every time I have seen them they have been better than the time before. Playing a collection of songs from their previous EP's a three or four new songs from their upcoming debut album. All of these sounded great and make me very excited for its release but one song stuck out in particular. It was called Respect and is a song attacking the "lad culture" that goes on at Exeter University and all other the country. Muncie Girls are not only a great band because they are brilliant set of musicians and songwriters but they are also a very important band because of their message. I look forward to them exploding and getting the recognition they truly deserve. 

When I think back to April for the last time I saw The SmithStreet Band at The Dome with Gnarwolves I really was not in a good place. I head was so messed up with things that I nearly didn't go to the gig. But I did and like every other time I'd seen them I came out feeling revived. If I've said this once I've said it a million times - The Smith Street Band are the world's best therapists. Fast forward to now and my head is in a better place than it has been in well over a year and I was so excited for this gig. I was upbeat and happy and the set somehow reflected that. The last time I saw Wil, Fitzy, Lee and Chris the set was very heavy on songs from the excellent Throw Me In The River, including slower numbers like The Arrogance Of The Drunk Pedestrian and Calgary Girls. Tonight's set did not, it was like the boys had said let's play a proper punk rock show and pick our rowdiest songs. Perhaps to shake the cobwebs out after the long flight from Australia. Whatever the reasoning was it certainly got the crowd going with extremely loud singing and enthusiastic dancing from the opening song Something I Can Hold In My Hands to closer I Love Life and encore song Young Drunk. This was my fifth time seeing them in the space of a little other a year and I'm now quite convinced that they can't play a band show. Even with severe jet lag the whole set was just perfect. I could gush and gush for hours just how good they were. It's an honour and a privilege to be able to see such an amazing band in such a tiny venue. After their Reading performance I'm expecting a new legion of fans to arrive and opportunities to see them in tiny venues like The Lexington will be few and far between. I do love The Smith Street Band.

Now listening to Thou Shalt Be Saved by John Allen