Live Music + Gig Reviews

Popular Workshop @ Buffalo Bar, London

9 October 2007

If you’ve ever listened to the musicOMH podcast, you’ll know I’m rather fond of Popular Workshop. Formed two years ago, the London three-piece released their debut EP Stutter and Dance earlier this year and gig pretty much constantly. I’d never seen them live however, and I have to say, still sulking at the smoking ban and loss of the dingy nicotined underground club, there aren’t many bands that would lure me out on a damp Tuesday night, but Popular Workshop are one.

Always good for a laugh, Artrocker nights at the Buffalo Bar are a mix of rather eccentric sounds and your highly amusing oh-so-pretty artsy crowd. While Popular Workshop are getting ready to play the comedy continues.

Luke the bass player changes his smart shoes into scruffy Converses. But why? In need of trendier footwear perhaps? Doesn’t want to scuff his smarts on the stage floor, when he’s walking, or rather shuffling over it as bass players often do? The reason for this change becomes apparent as the first notes of the opener Radical hits hard, for Luke does not walk or indeed shuffle. Instead, he falls to his knees, hard, he twitches, gyrates, throws himself on the floor. He’d have ruined his nice shoes. I have to giggle.

This theatrical, humorous and yet electric beginning paves the way for the rest of the gig. Tune Channels is wonderfully full, guitars flanged and huge, the tune propelled by its staccato time signature and you can’t take your eyes off the stage. Singer Gypsy is a mess of black hair, we never see his face as he twitches and jerks.

Drummer Jake is compelling to watch with his jazz trip fuck off demi semi quavers. During Reptilians Luke appears to be having a seizure, his eyes rolled back as he minces with Gypsy’s back. New single William is better live than recorded but still not a favourite. What Popular Workshop do so well is the chaotic, and William is too smooth. But a small blip only, and the rest of the super short set (20 minutes, perfect) is blistering. The supreme X-Ray Confidential ends the set ands I’m glad I made the trip. Fanciful words aren’t needed here. I like Popular Workshop. They’re a very good band.

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Popular Workshop @ Buffalo Bar, London