With so many bands on the bill, the gig started earlier than I realised. I arrived just in time for the first song by Sheffield’s Screaming Maldini, and I’m very glad I did.
It’s rare to hear pop music so intelligently constructed and yet so full of infectious melodies. They at turn make me want to yell along with their powerful group vocal hooks and scratch my head with puzzlement as to what time signature they are playing in.
Beautifully classical-inspired musical structures collide with close attention to pop accessibility throughout the entire set in a flawless, refreshing manner. With an album and single coming out this year on French label Hip! Hip! Hip!, these are definitely a band to look out for in 2012.
Echo Lake are a mammoth disappointment in comparison, playing song after song of plodding, repetitive shoe-gaze with little to no attempt to do anything even slightly out of the ordinary. The lead vocalist may very well have the narrowest range in music, hitting perhaps five notes across the entire set. I feel myself dozing off quietly in the corner of the room, desperately hoping they’ll do something to keep my attention. Alas, my hopes are dashed.
Luckily, We Are The Physics pummel the room with an intense (and slightly deranged) enthusiasm, careering through their set with the boundless energy of a child given free reign of a sweet shop.
They sound like a hardcore punk band who decided to channel the aesthetic of retro sci-fi films and video games, throwing in some theatrical stage antics for good measure: almost like a schizophrenic Devo shot through with large doses of caffeine. It would be impossible to not have a big stupid grin on your face while watching these unless you were really cold-hearted. Or dead.
Johnny Foreigner produce a wall of noisey emo-punk, full of shout-along choruses and calls to arms for the 20-something indie-nerd generation. They talk (or yell) about enemies, friends, and the mundanities of everyday life in a way that really reaches out to their audience.
This, coupled with the fact that they are so damn nice, tears down any walls between the band and their fans. They have a gift for tapping into something very personal to many people in this demographic, cultivating an insanely-obsessive fan base that worships the ground they stand on.
Watching a Johnny Foreigner gig is a truly spectacular experience, mostly because their fans know every single word to every single song and go completely mental over every note they play. It was all a little bewildering for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like the band, but this level of obsessive fandom was, it must be said, a little off-putting.
It was like witnessing the cult of Johnny Foreigner undergoing a mass religious ecstasy. Still, there are some good songs underneath the insanity, well worth checking out. Just don’t be put off if their fans lynch you for not thinking they are the best band in the world.