Shacklewell Arms, London
Thursday March 1, 2012
I've always had a close affinity with drum / guitar duos. From The White Stripes to Death From Above 1979, from The Kills to Japandroids, there's something pleasingly primal about the simple beatmaker, melody maker combination that slaps you about while making you dance.
So it is with Brown Brogues at Hackney's Shacklewell Arms tonight. Gaffer taped to the nines, Ben Mather perches behind his stripped-down and worse for wear drum kit in a T-shirt that takes longer to read than the band's setlist (for more on that, see here), while Mark Vernon, dressed in black, battered guitar strung up under his chin and a devilish eye peering beneath his fringe, looks in the mood.
As the audience swells inside the blue-and-green-lit underwater cavern of the Shacklewell's back room, the punk groove of 'Wildman' kicks the crowd's hips into gear. Then, 'I Just Don't Know's tale of domestic dispute amid crushing drums sees Ben call for more tape.
Listening to the duo's two-minute blasts of psych garage is akin to feeling the angst striken buzz of early White Stripes tracks like 'Lafayette Blues' or 'Hand Springs', as thumping drums provide the platform for scuzzy lo-fi guitar. There's a charm and lightness in their mid-song discussions though, with Ben's giggle at a missed intro and Mark's howled shouts of "thank you" temporarily alleviating the set's brooding garage.
The dual yelps and lyrical playfulness of early single 'Don't Touch My Hair', followed by the pulsating blues of 'Treet U Beta' close out a fast and frenetic night's work in front of an appreciative crowd, and as the band head out to SXSW, more shows like this will see Alex Turner's favourite band™ their stock rise even further.
words: Andy Porter
Brown Brogues' new single 'Anyone But You' is out now on Italian Beach Babes. The band perform at SXSW later this month.