You throw parties, I throw knives
THE LOUNGS / AUTOKAT / THE TOY BAND / LITTLE MY, 14TH DECEMBER 2006, CARDIFF BUFFALO BAR
(A caveat: Notes for this gig were hastily scribbled down under the increasingly severe influence of Staropramen and in between accosting members of Cardiff's indie fraternity...)
The occasion is the Kruger Magazine Christmas Party, and this is the third time I've seen Little My - and the first time I've realised that the man beneath the tiger headdress is Graf, guitar mauler with Gindrinker. Little My's stock-in-trade - winsome indiepop gems that are over almost as soon as they've begun - is a far cry from what he's used to in his day job.
He and the other members of the collective do their best to squeeze onto the small stage, and the Guess Who? board makes a welcome reappearance. We're advised (unnecessarily) that if we tilt our heads it's in tune - the vocals from 'Sellotape My Hands' have already worked their magic, charming us to within an inch of our lives. And there's even a suitably shambling cover of 'Little Donkey' to get us in the festive spirit.
As at the recent Twisted By Design CD launch gig, what follows is something of a contrast. In place of Little My's lovingly worn frayed jumper of a set, we have a very tight and precision-machine-stitched pair of jeans courtesy of The Toy Band. There's no label as yet, I don't think, but it's surely only a matter of time. Personally speaking, though, there are a few moments of genuine interest, particularly towards the end of the set with songs like 'Lily', but for the most part I'm struggling to banish thoughts of The Kooks and calculated careerist indie from my head.
A quick trip downstairs to witness Tom, Gareth and Neil Los Campesinos! making their DJing debut (complete with turntables and Neil Young LPs), and it's back upstairs for Manchester's Autokat. This is when things start to go a bit awry.
The foursome are a very average rock band. There's more than a hint of Interpol in their dark motorik manoeuvres, but despite glimpses of promise they unfortunately don't have the songs or individual personality to live long in the memory - particularly a memory like mine, which by this point has been subjected to a large quantity of lager and is less like a sieve than a funnel.
Likewise headliners The Loungs, who are also from the North-West and record for Akoustik Anarky (sometime home for the likes of Nine Black Alps and The Longcut). Perhaps we're over-hasty in disappearing downstairs at little more than a flash of tank tops and trombone, but in our defence the first two songs do nothing to prolong our stay.
Some (more sober) post-gig reflections:
Our departure obviously didn't help matters, but the lateness of the hour (Little My didn't take to the stage after 9.30pm) and it being a Thursday meant that the crowd had already thinned very considerably for the two bands of out-of-towners, seemingly consisting mainly of people who'd travelled down to lend their support. Surely it would have made more sense to shift things to earlier in the evening, or to at least schedule it so that a local band headlined and Autokat and The Loungs weren't forced to suffer the indignity of playing to a bunch of friends in an unfamiliar venue?
Also, and at the risk of suggesting it should have been "a local gig for local people", there's nothing necessarily wrong with inviting outsiders to perform - but, as the Twisted By Design CD and gig have underlined, there is plenty of local talent around, and as a Cardiff-based publication Kruger could have easily sourced enough to put together a better bill and given a bit of extra exposure to some of the more interesting and unique bands on its doorstep.
Ultimately, though, all this is rather churlish, and at a time of giving I don't want to come across as ungrateful: the gig was free, as is the (very readable) magazine; my perspective was to an extent warped by alcohol and my increasingly partisan and hardening conviction that Cardiff is a hotbed of great bands; and, whatever I thought of the bands, I enjoyed myself.