Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Cool Greenhouse @ Patterns, Brighton

27 January 2023

Tom Greenhouse and co bring their idiosyncratic didacticism, haughty sarcasm and meaningful cataloguing of social perversities to the south coast

The Cool Greenhouse

The Cool Greenhouse

Restrained in comparison to some of the more antagonistic artists reliant on spoken word delivery that the alternative music scene is currently awash with, The Cool Greenhouse’s titular cynic in chief Tom Greenhouse has an inscrutable capacity for creating humorous ear-worms rife with experiential concerns that put those other lamentable dullards to shame.

Characterised by an incessant deluge of non sequential, autobiographical aural inquisitions, wittily pondering the day to day minutiae of banality and confusion that this world provides, over tight and funk driven post punk, the band function as a postmodern update of Talking Heads, both the legendary punk funk band and the poignant yet tongue in cheek cult TV show from Alan Bennett. It’s inevitable that their world has indeed stopped making sense.

Throwing in unanticipated nods to the evening’s proceedings and dropping oft repeated hints about purchasing some merchandise and chatting to the band members after the show, Greenhouse chooses to inhabit a variety of other characters, often less jovial and well versed at social communication than himself. On 4Chan for example, a current live favourite for the wordsmith, he stalks around the chaotic mind of a dreaded incel, an unpleasant ill-mannered edge lord taking pleasure in attacking feminists and hero worshipping fictional masculine sociopaths like Tyler Durden and Patrick Bateman.

It’s that idiosyncratic didacticism that sets the band apart. The juxtaposition of haughty sarcasm and meaningful cataloguing of social perversities. There are not many artists who could conceive let alone put to record a lyric such as “Well, Simon seems to have misplaced his pet lamprey, his only source of intimacy throughout the whole of last year. Now he’s spinning in circles to the tune of radio static, praying to Sally Webster and watching God on the TV”.

Other bands may aim to end on a high but The Cool Greenhouse decide to close out proceedings, swinging from the rafters with a rousing version of Sad Toastie, a mildly shocking and elaborately ominous narrative about a blighted existence, that abruptly ends with a spot of fatalistic auto asphyxiation. Tom declares before the song begins that they don’t do encores as a rule so if the crowd had any desire to demand one, they should do so, leading to much stomping of feet, clapping and shouts for ‘one more’. Ever the contrarian, he seems charmed to achieve such a ratified conclusion.

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The Cool Greenhouse @ Patterns, Brighton