Proud Galleries, Camden, London
The tradition of live music in art spaces is a cool one that dates back to the Exploding Plastic Inevitable when the Velvet Underground showcased new tunes to the freaks and beautiful people of Warhol's Factory crowd. The Proud Gallery in Camden with its tardis-esque roof space is certainly a cool venue and perfect for such a balmy evening. But don't the patrons just know it. Cool enough to attract the beautiful people that's for sure but the only freaky thing about them was their preference for supping overpriced bottled beer rather than enjoying the bands on offer. A fear that this may be a night of style over substance was fuelled by the furniture on terrace. The canvas deck chairs displayed pictures of such icons as Marc Bolan, Jim Morrison, Gene Simmons and Pete Doherty – the impression was that the likes of Pete Townsend, Angus Scott or John Cale would not have been fashionably stylish enough for parking the posteriors of this crowd.
Such suspicions threatened to be confirmed by night's first act - Tiny Masters of Today. The guitarist wore a t-shirt emblazoned with a large number '12' which neatly worked out to be the average age of the bands stars, 11 year old Ada and her brother 13 year old Ivan, endorsed by such luminaries as Bowie and Karen O. (The trio was completed by Russell Simins, drummer from the John Spencer Blues Explosion.) Initially it was hard to decide if this was a grotesque gimmick or an inspired vision of the future. Considering that they hail from Brooklyn and were playing to a room full of Camden Trendys at least twice their age, the assertion of one chorus that 'all my friends are here with me' seemed a little bit weird and sad. But fair play to Tiny Masters of Today they proved themselves to be more than just a novelty with a tight live act and a couple of joyously rockin' tunes. Their finale of a cover of House of Pain's Jump was anything but grotesque and did indeed border on inspired. Ada even told us that 'this is a real song' as if the Camden crowd didn't know it.
Next act The Invention, fronted by a singer my companion described as like Eddie Vedder on speed, gave their all for a dedicated following. Most couldn't be drawn away from their lime topped beers but the committed fans didn't care singing along to all the songs and while not exactly liking to shoot guns nevertheless showing themselves to be pretty dangerous with flailing elbows.
And then there were the Desert Hearts. The faces of Ada and Ivan might one day feature on art gallery deck chairs after pricking the top 40 a couple of times, but one imagines that even with sales outstripping Elvis the Desert Hearts with beards and grungy cardigans will never be icons to the beautiful people. In any case they'd be wasted on this bunch. After a frantic opening they asked of the smattering of people bothered to take an interest in them 'so is this how it is in London?' - the answer was muted silence but should have been a reassuring 'no this is how it is in an art gallery in Camden'.
Sharing a producer on their most recent album Hotsy Totsy Nagasaki with Mogwai and Arab Strap, the Desert Hearts can be seen as part of this Celtic lineage. Where Arab Strap might be a contemplative sulk and Mogwai the pre-row brood on tonight's performance Desert Hearts are the tantrum and argument itself. They wanted to play a laid back set, explaining this was because 'we're fucked' but instead delivered a 'rifftastic' set of urgent guitars and driving drums which shook the stage if not the whole venue. By the end of their set the crowd had swollen by the passionate sound of the Desert Hearts but still many of the beautiful people drank their cocktails on those deckchairs. For those freaky enough to enquire what was going down on stage it was a triumph for substance over style.
10th Apr 2007 - Tumblr3
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