Art Brut, 4.11.06, Southpaw
by Charlotte Deaver
Before each upcoming song, after having chatted about it a bit, Eddie Argos turns to his band and asks, "Ready, Art Brut? Ready, Jasper?" Okay, c'mon now. Let's go, then, Art Brut."
These are rhetorical questions, of course, because Art Brut could not be more ready. And neither could its fans. Last night at Southpaw, there was moshing, crowd-surfing, insane fist-pumping and shouting along with the lyrics, and of course, the now-expected tour through the audience by Unstoppable, Top-Of-The-Pops Eddie.
It was a night of pure punk love.
Art Brut was great the last time I saw them, in November at Northsix. I missed the Bowery shows due to scheduling conflicts, but the word is that if you were only able to catch them play once this time around, the Southpaw gig certainly did the trick.
The difference between Art Brut last year and Art Brut now is not too vast. If they've changed much, after their label-signing, increased popularity, and mad touring schedule, they've changed for the better. The band is even tighter and more dynamic, with Ian Catskilkin and Jasper Future flying about the stage as they hold onto clean, spiky guitar licks. And unlike many acrobatic musicians, they don't come across as posers; these are sincere punk antics -- not angry, but jubilant. They are simply spending their youth, and spending it well. Bassist Freddy Feedback stands much steadier, as does Mikey D, the drummer (and, as you might notice from the photos, he really does stand!), in respectful service to rhythm and bottom.
I was right underneath Eddie for the first half (now, now, it's not like that) and moved back just in time to be swept up into all the moshing and surfing. At first I resisted a little, not quite sure if I wanted to get killed by a swarm of thrashing youth. But then I let myself go. I felt a guy's body above me (really, it's not like that!) and passed him along happily, as I continued to smash into the kids and howl, as we all were, for more and more.
One of the great things about Art Brut is their lack of bullshit, cynicism, and snobbery. They are clever, but don't assume that annoying air of being hipper-than-thou: "And yes, this is my singing voice, it's not irony, it's not Rock and Roll, we're just talking, to the Kids." When I was buying a t-shirt earlier from Jasper, I accidentally knocked into some guy with my elbow. Realizing that it was the same guy I had knocked into on my way in, of course I apologized, although it was a harmless bump in an extremely crowded club. But the guy snapped something nasty back at me, like "watch your elbows." I just smiled, inside wishing I hadn't, after all, apologized, and Jasper gave me the sweetest conspiratorial wink, along with two thumbs up, as I left the table. As I said, this band is definitely not from Williamsburg. (Wait, is that what I said?!)
Towards the end of the set (the last encore maybe? Did they do "Formed a Band" for their second encore? Oy. I just can't be certain), Eddie asked the audience if we remembered that last year he "ordered" each one of us to form a band. He has a very good memory, he threatened. And now he's back. And he wants to know, "Are you in a band?" "Are YOU in a band?" "And YOU?" "ARE YOU IN A BAND??!!" Well, are you?