Live Reviews

London Popfest @ 100 Club, London

2 March 2013

standard fareThe resurgence in the indiepop scene of recent years means there’s more events for the discerning cardigan wearing, jangly guitar listening music fan than ever before, but two key events prop it up and hold it all together; Indietracks festival, held at the Midland Railway Heritage Centre in Derbyshire, and London Popfest –  a three day get together, centred around an all-day show at the 100 Club.

Over the last four years it’s hosted early outings from the likes of Allo Darlin’, The History of Apple Pie, Shrag and Tigercats, as well as indiepop staples like Comet Gain, The Smittens, Tender Trap, The Just Joans and The Monochrome Set – and is often an indicator of those bands likely to be on the bill at Indietracks. This year’s line-up was lower key than it has been in recent years, but with the demise of a few of the scene’s biggest names, it was a chance for labels to show off some of the new talent, prised to take their place.

One such band, The Tuts, are casting their net wide. Having toured with Kate Nash, they’re certainly not planning on becoming pigeon holed, and their brand of grrrl pop sits somewhere between twee and punk. A cover of The Clash’s Rudie Can’t Fail showcases it perfectly; revved up guitars ease off for the chorus, with singer Nadia peeling out the chorus with a voice that could be lifted straight from a ’60s girl band record.

Durham’s Martha stir up a mosh pit, with angular guitars, spat out lyrics and clattering cymbals, leaving September Girls in an unenviable position. The Irish five-piece have beautifully constructed melodies but lack the songs to deliver them and much of the crowd gravitate towards the bar… or even into the outside world in search of food.

They’re quickly back in place in time for one of the scene’s biggest success stories of the last 12 month. This Many Boyfriends’ show at last summer’s Indietracks felt like a tipping point; their album was ready, they were growing in confidence, but still seemed quite bewildered by everything that was going on. That album earned praise from further afar, and last night they had the unlikely task of opening for The Kaiser Chiefs at Brixton Academy.  As singer Richard Brooke bounds around singing “I don’t like you because you don’t like The Pastels”, it’s hard to imagine him playing for the Kaisers’ fans. This is a band obsessed by indie minutae; their lyrics read like a love letter to their record collections; Talking Heads, The Go-Betweens and The Pastels all get a look in, as does legendary London indie night, How Does It Feel To Be Loved. Even their name is a reference to a Beat Happening song.

As the crowd chip in: “I predict a riot!”,  they reel off more of their album, which sits somewhere between The June Brides and The Cribs. Predictably it’s Young Lovers Go Pop!, their Los Campesinos!-ish mission statement that gets the biggest reaction, but I Should’ve Been A Communist and How Is This Even A Job are stand outs too.

The puzzling positioning of Sweden’s Speedmarket Avenue between This Many Boyfriends and headliners Standard Fare does them a disservice; recalling the likes of The Aislers Set, they’d feel like an early doors treat further down the line-up, but at this time, the high left by TMBF noticeably lulls.

By the time Standard Fare have set up, shouts of “Don’t go!” are already being hurled at the stage. After two albums and a rapidly rising profile, they’ve decided to call it quits and it’s the Sheffield band’s last ever show. It’s a predictably emotional set, with singer Emma Kupa thanking fans, other bands and the assorted London-based labels which are present today, “Even though none of you signed us,” she quips. The setlist dips into both of their albums, with the lyrics taking on a strangely prophetic quality. As the crowd woop and pogo along the trio, who’ve never seemed the most comfortable showmen, finally seem relaxed, like they’re at amongst friends, and frequently flash each other a grin, soaking it all in one last time.

With songs packed with references to hormonal longing and youthful paranoia it’s perhaps apt that they’re leaving us while they’re all so fresh faced, but the likes of Philadelphia, Fifteen, Wrong Kind of Trouble, 051107 and Call Me Up are reminders of what a great band we’re losing but, with the bands showcased today – and those who took to the stage of the Lexington for Fortuna POP!’s Winter Sprinter last month – they’re leaving the scene in rather exciting new hands.

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