The Koko in dirty old Camden is a venue so good I had to visit it twice:
Battles, 12th October – also see here. What a superb venue the Koko is: a thirty second walk from Mornington Crescent, a beautifully refurbished interior, air conditioning, a glitter ball the size of a mobile home – what more could anyone want?
Battles kicked up an absolute storm and looked far happier than they did at the Concorde a couple of weeks back. John Stanier celebrated by sweating through his clothes and not taking off his shirt. The sound was so loud as to be fucking PUNISHING – even the pre-show DJ (playing what sounded like mash-ups between Battles and Jennifer Lopez) had the volume cranked up to eleven. The support band – Parts and Labor – even had a few decent tunes – if only they would calm down a bit and stop pretending to be a hardcore band, I would sleep a little better at night.
Broken Social Scene play Spirit If... by Kevin Drew, 19th October – back to the Koko (have I already said what a fab venue it is?)
Kevin Drew musters a few Broken Social Scene cronies and heads out for another marathon tour to promote his (rather excellent) solo record, all mixed up with a few gems from the mightily impressive BSS back catalogue.
That said, they got off to a very slow start – even Cause=Time couldn’t get the audience suitably roused, not that it was entirely anyone's fault. The stripped back BSS looked a little lacklustre, a little too organised – along the lines of a really good support band, but hardly headlining stuff. That is, until Frightening Lives – the band dug in Somme-style and the atmosphere began to hum.
This is a band that thrives on a certain degree of randomness, of spontaneity. Kevin Drew is comfortable spending an entire song sat on the floor fiddling with an effects pedal, and it's this type of organised chaos that the band is so good at manufacturing. By the time BSS had torn through a blistering Superconnected and an extended version of Lover's Spit, the crowd were lapping it up. I haven’t been to many gigs where band and audience have had a weird symbiotic relationship with each other, but this was one of them. Emily Haines came on for Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl and a gloriously thrashy Almost Crimes - time for everyone in the place to go spaz.
One chaotic sing-song later (crap mobile phone footage above), BSS had done it – a stupendous gig rescued from the brink of averageness by sheer willpower alone.