On just another quiet, incongruous night on the grubby, over populated, drug dealer ridden Camden High Street – well, DJ Shadow was previewing his new record in Koko, but not much else was happening – there was something going on within the confines of Tommy Flynn’s Irish themed pub that people might be talking about several years from now.
The event was the oddly monikered club night Daddy I Want A Wristband, and featured a couple of DJs spinning the latest indie tunes and plenty of people lapping up imported Irish Guinness. What the crowd were assembled for, however, was something a little more than this – the so-hot-right-now Bombay Bicycle Club, no relation to the Black Rebel Motorcycles, were billed to appear.
The quartet have been together for just over a year, and at the ripe old age of 16, have all just received their GCSE results. Just the other week they were brought to the public’s attention by winning Road To V, in effect a battle of the bands competition in which they defeated The Holloways, amongst others, to the prize of opening the Channel 4 Stage at the V Festival. On television, at least, they seemed to relish the occasion, looking more than comfortable in front of the sizeable crowd that turned up to see them.
Tonight represented their first gig since V, and as such the small room was comfortably full by the time they took to stage at 10pm. During the first song, as you might expect, the band encountered a number of over excitable fans falling onto the stage. “This is going to be a really hard gig if you keep knocking things over,” declared their long haired, fresh faced singer Jack Steadman. It was that type of night.
And rightly so, I suppose. The music is urgent, pacy and decidedly raw rock ‘n’ roll – in the vein of early Strokes, Subways, Von Bondies, White Stripes, et al – that encourages people to jump up and down, be happy and do just this, fall onto stage.
The thing that was most striking, however, was how tight and remarkably accomplished their arrangements appeared – not a note seemed to go awry, and throughout their set they played with the confidence and gusto of musicians at least twice their age. Whether it was the adrenaline fuelled roller coaster ride of Open House or the deceptively titled Slow Song, they never once fell into the trap of being just an ordinary pub rock band.
Yes, there is certainly something about these kids which will set them apart from your everymen, and you feel it could be Jack Steadman’s deep, confident and impassioned vocal, in which he comes across like a tripped out Casablancas or a pissed off Paul Banks. Or it could just be their sheer youthful passion and energy. Or their already impressive roster of songs. Or their future sing-along hit and set closer The Hill, a tune full of tightly wound guitar riffs, impressive drumming and one of those magical choruses that locks itself in your head, which tonight almost blew the roof off the pub. One thing’s for sure – the post A-Level summer is in for a treat.