It's Wednesday night and I'm headed out to the Comedy pub in central London. I've heard some pretty bad reviews on this place from bands who have dared to play there in the past, so I'm curious to see what all the drama's about. I'm out to see one of my favorite underground bands of late, Ventenner, recently signed to indie label, Sonic Fire Records. I'm also incredibly excited about seeing them with their second addition to the band, Rob Wacey!
I arrive at the venue a little late, just about missing the first band on. But from the bands that follow shortly after (Ventenner NOT included), I can safely say, I wasn't missing much. What I WAS missing was a good part of a pound when I paid 4.50 for a pint of extra cold Guinness. Are you kidding me? I asked the bar maid with outrage and she shrugged her shoulders and said 'I'm afraid so…'
Turns out The Comedy pub is pretty much the grimy red grotto of misfit bands I was warned about. The place reeks of mediocre and unoriginal sound, whilst the promoter greedily rubs his hands together like a pimp promoting prostitutes who've sucked one too many cheesy cocks in their life time.
Just as the second band comes on stage, I manage to squeeze past people and give ol' Ventenner a hug. Before I'm able to get into small talk, bluesy notes come flying at me as Le Moho time warp me back into an age where rainbows were within reach and pigs were flying…
This band appears to have watched one too many Woodstock revivals. Their gooey mixture of Creedence Clearwater, Jefferson Airplane (minus the female vocals), a twist of Jim Morrison and possibly a hint of Pink Floyd, makes me want to politely vomit into someone's hair - not because I dislike those bands (very much on the contrary), but because Le Moho are a carbon copy of the true greats and their sound is recycled and overly obvious, leaving none to the imagination.
The best part of the show is when the front man moseys his way into the crowed with raised arms, hailing for Jesus to save his hippy soul whilst simultaneously trying to excite the audience into singing along with him… erm…
I will give them points for trying to look and sound so hard like the greats that they almost had me fooled…
Time literally drags on and I'm suddenly awakened by the cheesy groove from The Wild Archive. Their pop rock sound slowly grinds me down into a sobbing pulp as I observe some old timers shaking a hip. I guess if you took Ronan Keating's brain and the bodies of Kings of Leon of late (not back when they were cool), I guess that's what The Wild Archive are like… Oh and don't get their name confused with Arcade Fire…
Finally Ventenner hit the stage. They start off a bit rocky due to technical problems. The anticipation rises as the sound engineer runs back and forth trying to fix whatever needs to be fixed. Then finally, the sonic wall of distorted beats and atmospheric vibes increase as their sound pumps through the speakers and Ventenner come to life, starting with my favorite song 'Incubator' - a song that had been stuck in my ears for two days running. And although most catchy songs are the cause of most aneurisms, 'Incubator' doesn't have this effect. Instead, the reassuring beat, the simple but effective vocal melody, calmly sits in the forefront of my mind and with its hypnotic noise, I find it relieves me from any induced stress.
I'm happy to report that Ventenner's new addition, Rob Wacey aka guitarist extraordinaire, was the best choice the band could make. Having followed Ventenner when it was just Charlie Dawe rocking out on stage, I find Rob, although this being only his second performance, appears to be very confident. And as he plays, he sways forward like a true grunge rocker, dipping his head, one leg forward, swaying back and forth with meaning and precision. Charlie starts off playing some guitar, but into the second song, he holds onto the mic for dear life, sometimes hanging his head low as his arms keep hold of the mic stand; it's a dramatic look, but it's done with sincerity.
Ventenner's incredibly minimalist when it comes to their set up, something that fooled me when I first heard them on their website - the walls of distorted sound, the overlaps of guitars, heavy hypnotic beats, you would think they'd be a band of four. But Ventenner rock up with one lap top, two guitars, some pedals and LED lights. Simple yet effective.
What is surprising is the warmth their sound has live and the atmospheric beats pumping from the laptop, shake the floors of the Comedy's grotto, increasing the adrenaline and all I want to do is shake a pretty leg to their sound.
Unfortunately, because the previous bands decided to plague the stage and take their time to rape the ears of the uneducated of what decent music is, Ventenner had to shorten their set by 10 minutes. As the lights go up and the manager of the Comedy's brothel of bullshit claps his hands viciously to kick us out, I give both Rob and Charlie a squeeze before I hit the streets home.
One tip to any of you who dares to support any live acts at the Comedy pub - if you want the cheaper pint - don't buy it in the downstairs venue, buy it upstairs in the pub area - I did and saved myself 65 painful pence.