Something tells me, and correct me if I’m wrong, folks, that if you’re the first band on a bill where no one knows who the hell you are, you should rely on your music and not your stage banter to sell the audience. Lines like “I’ve heard rumours about Vancouver… well actually no I haven’t, I’m just trying to be clever” don’t make me want to rush out and buy your watered-down-pop-rock-sounding-like-Cheap-Trick style tunes. “We are High Speed Scene and we are desperately trying to make it in this business” is at least a little more honest.
A scruffy looking five-piece followed, and spying a banner being unfurled to my right, I saw the name of the band. I also saw a girl setting up what appeared to be (and what I later found out to actually be) a xylophone. Cool. Turns out, to everyone’s surprise, they are Swedish and not from Athens, Georgia, or whatever town is hip this month, and are actually pretty good. The singer gots a few “He sounds like Robert Smith fronting a sixties-pop band” comparisons from some friends watching the show. The bassist has a couple of legs up on the rest of the band in height; he was fun to watch, lumbering around the stage, his bass looking like a toothpick he could floss his pearly whites with. Along with The Concretes, Shout Out Louds may be part of the new Scandinavian wave ready to crash on our shores, so watch out.
Then The Futureheads, a bunch of lads from Sunderland, hit the stage and had the crowd from the first note of “Le Garage” to the last note of “Piece Of Crap.” Lots of knee-jerking, head-snapping, and hand-clapping to be had on this night. Who invited Patrick Pentland of Sloan on stage? Oh wait, that’s guitarist Ross Millard, nyuck, nyuck. Any band that can divide the crowd in half each singing the different backing vocal parts to “Hounds Of Love” (yes, the Kate Bush song), is OK in my books. In fact any band that plays equal parts Devo, The Jam, and makes me smile is OK in my books. My pal Jeffie got props three times from the band, and from now on I will only refer to him as “the little man from the record shop.” The rest of the set was peppered with songs from their debut, including the current fave “Decent Days And Nights,” “A To B,” “The City Is Here For You To Use,” and so on, but they also paid tribute to their influnces by covering The Television Personalities’ “A Picture Of Dorian Gray.” Apparently anyone who missed them this time out can catch them opening for a certain “hot” band soon, but my guess is their performance won’t be half as good as the one I just saw.