Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Dilettantes / Sky Parade / Winter Drones / Time. Space. Repeat - 21st March 2008, Sonic Cathedral at The Social

It’s Good Friday, so diligently we go to worship at Sonic Cathedral. We take the sacrament (in a glass, with ice, numerous refills) and settle in for Time. Space. Repeat. who are just one bloke today doing swirly, drifty, shoe-y, post-rock-ish stuff with his guitar and voice. It’s pleasant enough, but I get distracted by the episode of shit sixties sit-com ‘Mothers In Law’ that’s showing on a screen behind the stage. In it, The Seeds are making a rather embarrassing guest appearance. They have lovely shiny hair and Sky Saxon swirls his cloak around. Hurrah! "We hope you like it. We think it’s gassy!"

Where were we? Oh, now Winter Drones are playing. Prior to clambering onstage, their keyboard player has been sitting with her back to me, sticking her bony elbows into my shoulders. This suggests a certain lack of co-ordination, as does her actual keyboard playing. But this is Winter Drones’ (good name, well done) first gig so we’ll give them some leeway, eh? Their songs hint at the whites of eyes rush of early Telescopes dissolving into the static crackle and snowfield hum of, er, late Telescopes. Intriguing.

Sky Parade are a bit too manly rocking for me. A bit too (metaphorical, I hope) foot on monitor, wind in hair riffin’. They’re another one of those bands that feature an ex-BJM band member (they get everywhere, don’t they?) in this case ex-bass player Tommy Dietrick – now vocalist/guitarist. And although they have their swirling moments and psych twinges, they’re just too sleek and rawk for me. Their sound suggests The Cult circa ‘Love’- dark, sleazy, goff-tinged. When I was fourteen, this would have been a good thing. Now it leaves me cold.

As anyone with eyes and ears nose, Joel Gion is the reason everyone digs ‘Dig’, Ondi Timoner’s Dandys/Jonestown crockumentary. He’s the one with the wild frizz and ginormo fly-eye shades, the stupid voices and the wacky antics. Well, he was. That was a while ago. Now he’s the leader of The Dilettantes, a band of psych-rock troubadours who take to the stage and give it some welly in a fine mod-poppin’ style.

They work their way through a set of beat tunes that sounds like its been lifted wholesale from some pop-sike compilation of long-forgotten garage-rockin’ nuggets. The guitars sparkle and sunshine melodies snap at your heels – these are perfect tunes for dancing like a loon.

Joel concentrates on playing the songs, not playing the fool. He sings in a rumbly drawl, shaking his tambourine with classic Gion aplomb. "Here comes the tambourine man, yeah you know what I mean" he sings on ‘Ready To Go’, storming in on a thumping backbeat - a spikily groovy call to arms for the beatkids. ‘Subterranean Bazaar’ is a furious fuzzin’, hard janglin’ freakbeat delight, blamming along at breakneck speed for optimum pop thrills. ‘The Whole World’ is high as a kite bubblegum fun that gets the crowd singing along with its instantly insistent ‘ba ba bas’, and for the few minutes it lasts the world is a goggle-eyed whirl of colour. ‘Don’t You Ever Fall’, on the other hand, does pastoral wide-screen psychedelic swoonage in the vein of the lovely Lovetones.

The band look fab in that Carnaby Street threads ago-go way that Yanks can get away with. We ponder the fact that if The Dilletantes were British, their clothes would make them look like gits. We also ponder the fact that one guitarist looks like Noddy Holder. Excellent work all round.

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