all words: Andy Hess
all ah-may-zing photos: Mark Silva
I would argue that the best thing about Art Brut live are the anecdotes. Sure, their brand of spiky punk rock is charming and catchy that should get anyone moving, but Argos’ knack for story telling, er, ranting — both in song and between them — is the main reason I dredged out into the cold on a Sunday.
During the hour long set, Argos shared tales about old flames (“Emily Kane”), bad sex (“Rusted Guns Of Milan”), good sex (“Good Weekend”), the record buying public (“Demons Out!”), comics (“DC Comics And Chocolate Milkshake”), siblings (“My Little Brother”), public transportation (“The Passenger”) and the tour Argos and two other members of the band received of the DC Comics offices in New York because of that song. But that story came during the DC Comics version of “Modern Art” where Argos walked through the crowd as he recounted the tour of the offices. Apparently the basement of the DC Comics offices is an actual Bat Cave — which sounds like the best thing ever if you ask me! Seriously, who wouldn’t want to work in the Bat Cave?
Most of the band’s set was geared towards their most recent record Art Brut v. Satan and their 2005 classic Bang Bang Rock & Roll with hints of It’s A Bit Complicated found in the encore. To my surprise DC fans were actually enthusiastic about a band for a change. There was pogoing, clapping and actual general audience participation. It was a nice change of pace from the blank stares many bands seem to receive.
Art Brut’s live show mission statement is an obvious one: give the people paying the best time they can. Their ability to mix music and comedy and fill a gig with too many memories make them an obvious choice when having to choose between bands on a particular night. At one point, Argos demanded that everyone in the audience “form a band and make rock and roll”. Art Brut definitely have the lovable underdog persona and are the indie equivalent of Vegamite, but they’re a band that believes in what they’re doing. They also make your outlook on the work week a lot better.
Openers Princeton might have the Ivy League look, but they’re no Vampire Weekend. The group from Los Angeles plays the polite indie card very well, mixing Beach Boys harmonies with lo-fi pop, but there was something missing throughout the set. Maybe I just want some more improvisation or change of pace with bands like this. Regardless, the band played a very tight set — I don’t think their drummer missed a note — and won the small crowd over by the end of the night when they decided it was okay to make a mistake or two.