A heady early Summer rush of gigs – up to 8 before the end of June, including a couple of big days out in London town! – starts tonight with a jaunt down to the Louisiana to see Ann Arbor, MI’s Pity Sex, a band whose name I can’t really decide whether I like or not (put it this way, as a dad of 2 inquisitive little kids I won’t be buying any t-shirts tonight!), but whose debut album, “Feast Of Love” has intrigued me with a mixture of lazy guitar groove, slightly submerged and mumbly vocals and post-grunge riffery. A very 90’s slacker/ shoegaze feel, but enjoyable to these ears, so I was up for some “live” Pity Sex!
I hit the road at 7.30, which normally pitches me up well in time for the Louisiana’s evening events; however, after I parked up in a tight squeeze on the “free” side of the road and wandered through the quiet pub, then shoehorned into this small and already packed upstairs bolt-hole, I realised openers Pushing Daisies, onstage, had actually just finished their last number. D’oh! Things were running early tonight; I should have taken the hint…
I guessed Pushing Daisies were local and had brought their mates, as the place was appreciably less packed for main support The Death Of Pop, who were given the, “away you go,” instruction by the soundman at 8.45. Their set eased in with an opening number which started off all resonant, jangly laze-pop, then morphed into a more shimmery, shoegaze wall-of-noise reminiscent of Ride’s early, slower moments. A promising start which continued with some faster-paced stuff, delving variously into C86 territory, jangle pop and psych-fuzz, with a strong sense of warm melody overlaid by very apposite echoey vocals and occasional shards of guitar noise. “Whenever” segued impressively into “I’m Really Into Sally”, and a final breathless and galloping number stretched out into a slashing riff-fest and final squalling cacophony of noise. An impressive set overall from this young support.
Nice chaps too – I took a wander back to the car between sets, and bought a CD and chatted Boo Radleys with them as they hung out by their transport (I’d spotted some similarities in their set to Martin Carr’s mob’s 90’s pre-Britpop psychedelic masterpiece “Giant Steps”, which the guitarist confirmed was one of his favourite CDs, remarking, “you’re the first one to have noticed that!”). I then wandered back upstairs 5 minutes before Pity Sex were due on, only to hear on my approach the opening bars to “Wind Up”, the lead-off song from the LP and this set! D’oh! Again! I hastily squeezed back in to a spot near the front, stage left, for the rest of this upbeat and dynamic Dinosaur Jr.-alike opener, noting the male/ female call and response vocals were more in evidence “live”. A good start!
Pity Sex numbers at this point are pretty much set to one of two speeds; a more upbeat, galloping groove typified by the opener, and a more slow-burn, lazy pace punctuated by big grungy riffery and higher octave vocals either from mainman Brennan Greaves (straining his vocals, often uncomfortably, in a similar vein to Mac from Superchunk) or the more ethereal and atonal sounding Britty Drake. The set chopped and changed between said 2 speeds, and was punctuated by some entertaining slacker chat from Brennan (remarking on his day with, “I had a nice nap in the van, drank some warm beers and had a walk by myself… aaand that’s my story…!”, and following Britty’s compliments of Bristol’s ambience with, “I saw a swan on a garbage barge – sleeping on another dead bird!”). The opener notwithstanding, I actually preferred the slower numbers on show tonight; “Sedated” was musically more stark and bare than most of their riff-loaded material, almost recalling Galaxie 500, and the penultimate “Dogwalk” was probably the most melodic number on show, a hooky and almost tender melody which drifted lazily along.
I grabbed an easy set-list following the conclusion of Pity Sex’s decent 40 minute set, which overall was high on mood and guitar vibe, with the slacker shoegaze grunge melting pot of guitar noise making up for their relative lack of memorable material at the moment. Definite promise tonight, though, from both bands on show, both of whom I hope to check out again to see said promise being realised. A good start!