(Photos by the great Simon Ayre)
So I’ve been reading the Luke Haines book a lot recently. His trawl through the Britpop era is pretty devastating, and after a while Haines’s sneer drills its way into your brain to merge with your own thoughts. Short sentences. Lots of distain. Anyway, Luke Haines would hate A Scholar And A Physician to the point of bloodpuke. Two floppy-haired men, possibly brothers, who play keyboard and guitar cheekiness and flounce about like Kevin The Teenager, or maybe stray members of Earl Brutus posing as kids’ TV presenters. Their opening instrumental is awkwardly epic, sort of autistic hands in the air stuff, but the rest of the set leans heavily on jokey vocals and not a little zaniness. Just far enough from the ground walked by people like cancerous shit Gideon Conn (they actually recall forgotten ’90s funsters Wubble U, weirdly), ASAAP are strangely lovable damn them, like a Valentine card drawn in felt tip.
Mat Riviere comes from Norwich, and looks it. This year’s winner of World’s Worst Jumper kneels on the floor behind a small bank of keys and computer trickery and brings… it… down. Organ notes are let out one by one, slowly, at length. Some mumbled vocals suddenly flare into random screams and a drumstick smashed against a chair. It’s like some primitive therapy session, or a nerd exorcism, and oddly compelling. Tunes are obviously a little thin on the ground but Mat Riviere’s spirit is cock on, twisted and uncomfortably so.
One lesson from tonight might be: if you have a brain, please use it. Andy Regan, the Pagan Wanderer Lu, has two fully working hemispheres and his songs bristle with self-reflexive intelligence, tunes About Stuff that double up with doubt and caustic wariness. Catchy buggers too. Ostensibly a push for new LP ‘European Monsoon’, tonight’s set varies little from previous appearances, which means it’s another dose of guitar and Lego block backing, slightly aloof and packing a delicate punch. Good stuff.
One more weirdo then. Another one-man-guitar-and-electronic-backing, Stairs To Korea‘s set passes in an agreeably slinky manner, balmy, horizontal songs that bring to mind the summery pop breeze that someone like Jens Lekman is capable of. Very little sticks in the memory, bar the fact that Will Vaughan looks like a cartoon you simultaneously want to hug and tickle, but his presence seals a heartening evening. Four acts, all at different tangents to each other, yet all connected by some crooked musical thread of awkwardness. Long may Brainlove collect these square peg weirdos.