Sunday, 23 May 2010

488 EMETREX, Econoline, London "Poptones Radio 4 Club" at Notting Hill Arts Centre, Wednesday 21 February 2001

A notable first, this; the first time we've seen Boston friend Michael Paulo actually play "live" in a band! But first, Rachel and I, staying in London after last night's Evan Dando gig, meet up with Michael for pre-lunch coffee before he and Emetrex disappear for a Radio session. Rach and I then hit the record shops all afternoon, before heading over to Notting Hill before 6. We were told by Michael's Seriously Groovy record company people this morning that "Poptones", an Alan McGhee-run extravaganza, was pretty hip and therefore open at 6, sold out by 8. When we got there and found the doors open but no-one attending them, though, we just slipped in, meeting up with the band in the venue! Stayed there in this odd-shaped and run-down venue when they went off for food, as we'd both found comfy seats, and watched the place fill up around us, before the Emetrex chaps returned and bassist big Dave McGlynn wanted to know the whole story behind my love of Boston rock. So I told him!

Econoline, Emetrex' label-mates and tour buddies, took the stage first. We were warned to expect a junior Built To Spill, but they were unrehearsed, discordant and harshly loud, so I wasn't really sure what to make of them as the songs kind of got buried under the noise. The jury is out on them...

Emetrex, who took the stage just after 10.30, were a different proposition. Michael had warned us against high expectations, the band having only just arrived in the UK so being tired and slightly under-rehearsed, however we suspected he'd been sandbagging and thus was the case. Emetrex put on a fine show of superbly shimmery and shiny mood music, with Wheat being an obvious (and lazy) influence and comparator, sharing a love of touching melancholy and haunting, chiming guitars and undulating basslines (as well as a rehearsal space in Taunton, MA!).However, I'd be hard-pushed to imagine Wheat coming up with something as aggressively fuzzy as "Staring At The Stone" or as swaggeringly jolly as set finale "King Of Animals". A damn fine set from this deliciously beguiling new Boston band, during which drummer Ben Hedlund took pix himself!

More congrats and socialising with the band and their record company afterwards, before heading back to our hotel. But hey, Emetrex were bloody good tonight, and after a few shows round the UK they should be well up to speed when they hit Oxford and London (again) next week. We'll be there!

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