I’m not getting to many gigs these days, a sad state of affairs that has been brought home to me by the recent White Denim and Flamin’ Groovies disappointments but even more so by the one date I have managed to make recently, a cracking evening at the Exchange in Bristol, in the company of Speedy Ortiz.
I’d forgotten quite how small the Exchange is. It’s tiny, the stage area not a whole lot bigger than a largish front room. But really, that’s great, if you’re one of the lucky ones with a ticket in your pocket and a lurid green band fastened tightly about your wrist. The whole standing expectantly in front of a stage, pint in hand, waiting for the band thing was as feverishly strong as ever, and I found myself making unrealistic promises to myself almost instantly. Two really strong support bands later (Personal Best and Empty Pools – both local, both terrific and both to be posted about at a later date, I promise. No, really…) and I was enjoying myself so much I was even beginning to think Speedy Ortiz were going to have trouble living up to expectations…
No worries, there, Speedy Ort-eez (we were to learn) were tremendous – rowdy, difficult and the ideal mixture of taut sloppiness to complement their awkward, harsh, delicate songs. Singer Sadie Dupois is (I’m sure I read) a poet and some sort of semi-academic talent, although I may be making this last part up, but is of course something of a pale beauty, as well. I don’t have a good visual memory, generally, but the image of Ms Dupois in her immodestly short skirt, bashing the shit out of her guitar is one that I think will linger… (I’m a little embarrassed to say I can remember precious little of the rest of the band – although on the recordings I can be heard saying “the drummer’s a bit of an animal, isn’t he?”, so I can’t have been slobbering all evening…)
It was a great set, running through a lot of material not on Major Arcana, the Real Hair and Sports EPs featuring heavily. Didn’t know these two records at the time, but I’ve quickly sorted this. There were superb versions of “Gary”, “Indoor Soccer”, “Plough” and “No Below”, a song she said she wasn’t keen on any more, but which I always find moving.
Actually, listening to the recordings, the band were excellent, no mean achievement seeing as regular guitarist Matt Robidoux has just gone on “indefinite hiatus”. Stand-in guitarist Devin McKnight did an admirable job (good enough for me to remain oblivious to the changes until yesterday…)
A lightning 45 minutes of feedback-drenched, fearsomely-loud overexcitement was over in a heartbeat, and in no time we were out on the street, ears ringing to the strains of encore “Taylor Swift”. A fair old racket, indeed.
All things considered, the recordings haven’t come out badly at all. I commend to you the following: