The Strange Boys / The Reach Arounds / imp @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 01.04.12

The Brudenell Social Club has had a long standing relationship with Wakefield based bands, The Cribs being an example of just how good a launch pad the venue can be for acts from the region, and gig openers imp could be the next group to follow in this tradition. Their approach is unusual for a Yorkshire band; they’ve moulded a compelling interpretation of Built to Spill’s fuzzy post-rock into a distinctive and engaging stomper of a set.

Apr 1st, 2012 at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds / By James Pullin
The Strange Boys / The Reach Arounds / imp @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 01.04.12 In contrast, second support The Reach Arounds were altogether more relaxed, pumping out beef jerky flavoured archetypal rock tunes with fretboards flailing and legs akimbo. It’s a shame that despite these eyecatching ingredients their performance proved to be both entertaining and immediately forgettable.

After recovering from the vigorous crotch thrusting of the Reach Arounds the Brudenell was ready for the main event, The Strange Boys. Their rasping 2009 album and Girls Club was carefree, impetuous and it contained more fire than Elvis’ favourite chilli dog. The rawness of their groove driven rock n’ roll sound was perhaps unfairly lumped into the garage revival movement of middle of the last decade. Since then the Boys from Austin have turned down the Ramones and turned up The Band, Gram Parsons and Bryan Jones era Rolling Stones. Their latest effort Live Music surpasses and Girls Club with a lush mix of honky-tonk and blues, while retaining the defiant core of their Rebel Without a Cause ethos. However, what has been lost in the translation of the newer songs from studio to stage is the dynamism of the band’s early recordings, and that loss was on display in a frankly disappointing showing at the Brudenell.

Throughout the set the band seemed chiefly disengaged. Occasionally memorable interventions from singer Ryan Sambol on the keyboard or mouth organ did perk up the crowd’s ears, but the rest of the band could barely manage to feign interest. The admirably manic dancing of some crowd members at the front was testament to the quality of the Strange Boys material; the band could evidently put in minimal effort and still get a good response. Songs like ‘Probation Blues’, ‘Doueh’ and ‘Me and You’ are so downright catchy that their thumping heartbeat still chimed through the fog of apathy that all too frequently descended over the Boys. This fact made the experience of watching the band a frustrating one; it was obvious that the audience wanted desperately to be swept up by the Strange Boys and their whisky dipped American charm, but they were never really given the chance. This lackadaisical performance could be just a one off; the crowd leaving the Brudenell will sincerely hope so.