Sunday, June 21, 2009

Art Brut at Spaceland. June 17, 2009. Los Angeles, CA.

I've often been wont to liken Art Brut to a pop-rock version of fellow Brit the Streets, placing Eddie Argos' not-quite-singing next to Mike Skinner's not-quite-rapping, blunt and conversational storytelling acting as the core of the music in each case. “Emily Kane” could make you smile and wince the same way “Fit But You Know It” did (they still do), and after being told all about the girl at hand, you can't help but both root for and pity the man behind the story. And as with Skinner's work, it's not necessarily the likeable but not-so-standout music that serves as key, but the narration, chatty and embarrassingly honest.

Live, however, the story's a bit different. Argos' banter is such that even if it's been recorded four years ago, it still sounds like a fresh argument into the microphone, but on stage the remaining band also turns out to be much more necessary than previously thought, and it becomes suddenly apparent that Art Brut is a protest band of the best variety. They're fighting a peaceful fight, protesting against saccharine music that's been regurgitated ten times over for a musically ignorant and receptive audience. They're protesting against irony, against contrived coolness, even drummers' stools (drummer Mikey Breyer stands up to show off his red pants while he plays).

My sex is on sex is on sex is sex is on fire. Am I human or am I dancing? What does it mean? It means nothing!

They really do hate pop music. But they're pro-happiness, somewhat ironically and then not. They smile when they play, and guitarist Jasper Future, also in red pants, even wears a face not unlike that of a stupid-happy dog when he's next to Argos.

Argos pointed out during this, their second night of a three-date run at Spaceland, that we, the audience, should all form bands because – look at us! – we're so happy. And they did all look so very happy. While playing lots in particular from their first and newest records (Art Brut vs. Satan was just released in April), Argos took a break to tell us, mid-song, that we should form bands because it's fun, and to keep records in record shops, and that DC Comics makes him want to rock out. Are you ready, Art Brut? No metaphors, no sleazy dancing, no puckered mouths (see: Los Angeles). Just genuine smiles and authentic stories.

Oh! But opener Tall Hands involved lots of bounce and one divine moustache not to be ignored.

(Yes, I know these are so four years ago, but I love them so.)
Purchase the new one, Art Brut vs. Satan.

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