Metronomy probably don’t know this, but me and them have got a rocky relationship. I managed to piss them off to such an extent during an interview at a festival last summer that one of them asked me whether my equipment could pick up the sound of him punching me in the face. I’m always up for trying out new things, so I encouraged him to go ahead with the experiment. Nothing happened, and it transpired that I had forgotten to switch it on anyway. A couple of months later, I wanted to have my birthday party at the Moustache Bar in Dalston in London, but of course Metronomy had booked it for the night. I ended up seeing in my 23rd in a crap pub next door, accompanied by a collection of insane men and a forty-year-old Polish prostitute who wouldn’t stop stroking my face. It’s hardly surprising then that when I saw them play along with Micachu And The Shapes, thecocknbullkid and Chairlift, at KOKO, I had quite an eventful evening.
First up was Micachu. At first I felt a little bit sorry for her and her backing group, The Shapes. It was pretty empty, and people were hanging around as if they were in a shopping centre watching a crap brass band. Despite their insistence on playing with dwarf-like instruments, I thought they did pretty well. Some of the songs did make me feel like I was listening to tacky Chinese music on ketamine, but on the whole they managed to pull off the quirky electro sound, which is actually pretty hard to do. I tried once on ‘Garage Band’ and succeeded, but it took me ages. I enjoyed one song in particular, which had a similar synthy sound to the Knife. To their credit, the crowd took more interest as the gig went on, and they were well appreciated in the end.
The lovely cocknbullkid was next. It’s hard to comment on her without resorting to hackneyed terms like ‘up-and-coming’, ‘original’, ‘talented’, and ‘stylish’ because they so obviously apply, so I’ve decided not to use those words. One thing that sets her apart from other poppy electro acts though is the fact that the lyrics aren’t just a random collection of words that are slapped on top of the music; in fact, they’re just as interesting as the melody. Synth-pop with substance is quite refreshing, but not as refreshing as her taste in clothes. She had a Grace Jones moment and went off stage to change from a silvery cape blouse thing – I’m a fashion journalist in my spare time – to a navy polka dot blazer. Even though at points the bass made my nasal hairs have a little party, she sounded as good live as she does on recorded tracks.
I asked a drunk Canadian guy what he thought about the next band, Chairlift, and he said “they’re so iPod.” Another guy dressed in a bowtie and velvet jacket said that they were “shoegazers.” As shoegazers are defined as 'people who look at the floor without moving, and whose music consists of undecipherable vocals with guitar and keyboard effects', I’d say that was pretty much true, but in the case of Chairlift, the effect can be pleasing. The lead singer doesn’t remain motionless though; she moves around like a puppet in the hands of a drunk with narcolepsy. She’s quite hot though, so she can dance how she wants.
As for the Metronomy set, I’m afraid I can’t say very much, apart from that they had lights on their chests. I bumped into some friends on the dance floor during the first song, and we had a beer and danced. At that point a guy who was standing next to us started to dance with his elbows out. He was smashing into everyone, knocking people’s drinks out of their hands and preventing anyone else from enjoying themselves. I know it’s meant to be cool to dance like nobody’s watching, but this guy took it too far. I politely asked him to desist, but his only response was to call me a homosexual. I told him to stop annoying everyone, and he said “I’m going to get a drink from the bar, and I bet you’re going to follow me because you’re a gay.” I then told him to perform a sexual act on himself, and he punched me in the eye. The situation escalated, and we both got chucked out. It’s OK though, I stole his shoe when we were outside and chucked it on the roof of KOKO. He’s not getting that back in a hurry. Aside from the drama at the end, the evening was a success. The bands complemented each other. Each act is unique, and has a degree of quirkiness and originality that seems to withstand the pressure of becoming popular. As for Metronomy, despite my grievances, they’re actually rather good.