Baddies + Hoodlums + The Welcome Committee + Electric Guest - Upstairs at The Garage
Live Review

Baddies + Hoodlums + The Welcome Committee + Electric Guest – Upstairs at The Garage, London

From the minute frontman Asa Taccone steps onto the tiny Upstairs stage at The Garage, you know you’re going to have fun. Maybe not quite as much as he is – Electric Guest have just arrived in a dank London from LA and they are a tad cold, but Taccone’s snaky hips and cartoon songs provide humour and warmth for a diehard crowd ready to bop again on a Monday night.

A clutch of loyal fans rave about previous gigs in Paris, and name The Shins and Broken Bells as core influences for the singing and drumming duo that has engaged a couple of bespectacled guitarists to fill in the gaps they left in the studio when they made their debut album ‘Mondo’. ‘Mondo’ (slang for ‘very, really, extremely’) is due out on April 23.

The album was neatly produced by Danger Mouse and the band manages to replicate the sound beautifully live.

But don’t get carried away, there must be somewhere else to go after producing such slick pop. While there is an admirable blend of the music and lyrics, the latter suffer from lovey-dovey clichés: the protagonist in Under The Gun is told to “go and live a life” and to keep heading for the Promised Land to a jolly backing beat that is too bland to contrast with the punch of the plentiful verbal directives.

My plus-one draws breath at the prospect of the nine minutes of single Troubleman. It’s a nice song but I can’t find anything in it that makes it worthy of this kind of indulgence. Maybe this was a big broken heart, but the only thing revealed in this track is Taccone and duo-accomplice Matthew Compton’s penchant for jangly guitar riffs and switching direction mid-song.

While a lot of Electric Guest seems familiar and distinctly simple, it is still a long time since we have heard anything like them. Add a bit of non-stop dancing and the pure joy that the lyrically and vocally dexterous Taccone weaves in, and they could become very, very popular. Who would have thought that Jimmy Somerville’s influence would have lasted so long in glitzy LA?

The rush to catch up lost time militated against the clever Welcome Committee, a twosome that most closely resemble Carter USM. My plus-one could hear The Wombats in the music; I heard the Psychedelic Furs in the vocals; and we both agreed that Pete Shelley was in there somewhere. The quirkiness of frontman and vocalist Joe Shergold contrasts with the slightly different world that drummer Ken Canham appears to inhabit.

The return to the 1980s occasionally promised by Welcome Committee was confirmed by The Hoodlums, a band full of rockstars, although someone might tell the marvellously named lead singer Lou Vainglorious that he should have had his pre-gig banana offstage. As good as five-a-day is, it’s just not rock ‘n roll.

What followed was big hair, big attitude, a tight set, but a few too many ‘oooh, oooh, hoohs’. Tucked in the middle of the penultimate song, the line “always looking over my shoulder” could be taken as a nod to the ‘80s. A triumphant rendition of Estuary Boys from a troop that hails from Deptford and Southend included that immortal line: “God save the Estuary Boys”.

Those that God might not be able to save include Baddies, a band that comes with no definite article. The jaunty start to the night was soon extinguished as these Southend jailboys (regulation neon blue shirts done up the collar) projected a wall of sound in a very small space. If you like it, you love it, and they certainly did. The pile-driving outburst of musical venom coincided with the release of ‘Build’, their second album. My impression is they don’t do weddings.

(Pictured: The Hoodlums)

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