The Cribs / The Chalets / Help, She Can't Swim!

  • Leeds
  • United Kingdom
  • Leeds Metropolitan University
  • 2005-12-08

Tonight Leeds Met plays host to two very different sides of the current indie scene. Fighting out of the blue corner, The Chalets bring a distinctively kitsch brand of pop with a good live reputation. They’re the most interesting and shamelessly fun band I’ve listened to in a long time, and seem destined for the top. The red corner plays host to our headliners, The Cribs. As something of a homecoming gig for the Wakefield trio, their raw northern guitar rock sound should go down a storm, but a patchy live reputation precedes them.

Arriving just in time to hear the end of Help, She Can’t Swim!’s set, the Met Bar was very quiet. The couple of hundred people managing to stand perfectly still whilst the posturing screechers awkwardly tried to be chaotic didn’t seem to dampen their spirits. However, the crowd would also inexplicably remain comatose during the next act, the ever-lively Chalets.

Anyone familiar with the Chalets will know that they’re all about style.

As with any band reliant on clean synths and polished production, I was wary as to how the Dubliners would translate to a live show. A blistering opener in the form of ‘Sexy Mistake’ managed to allay those fears, with the saccharine-sweet vocals sounding as filthy against the guitar backdrop as they ever did. Anyone familiar with the Chalets will know that they’re all about style, and this wasn’t lost in their live show. With their 50s-inspired outfits and natty dance routines, the girls manage to avoid the indie-girl cliche of looking bored whilst lethargically poking at a synth with their index fingers, and ultimately bring the band to life. This was lost on the entire crowd, however, with one particular comic genius repeatedly asking them to get their tits out. At least this prompted some funny banter from the girls, who quite rightly pointed out that the crowd was constituted of ‘sweaty teenage boys’.

Despite the increasingly obvious reality that myself aside, no-one in the room was there to see the Chalets, they continued with some great live renditions of favourites like “Nightrocker”, “Feel the Machine”, and “No Style”. After an all-too-brief set of around 7 or 8 tunes, the underappreciated fivesome seemed to submit to the awful audience, and finished with the dark, dirty, and generally excellent “Love Punch”. The notable absence of some of the more popular tracks, like “C’est Supercool” and “Kiss Chasing”, just served to highlight the fact that these are an act who deserve to be headlining, and I’m already looking forward to seeing those performed live next time they’re in town.

Whilst the cold reception to both support acts suggested a certain apathy on the part of the crowd, as soon as the Cribs arrived, it was more than obvious that there was only one band the crowd wanted to see that night. they exploded as the Jarman brothers took to the stage. As the opening riff of “Mirror Kissers” rang through the hall, the crowd suddenly metamorphosed from a silent mass into one leaping screaming collective idiot. Never the less, a great opening track, with shades of contemporaries The Futureheads, which set the performance off in fine style. After an energetic performance, and a literally blinding lightshow, the Cribs had proven themselves more than capable of carrying top billing, though the behaviour of the crowd left more than a little to be desired.

the crowd suddenly metamorphosed from a silent mass into one leaping screaming collective idiot

The problem with union gigs is often that they’re populated by new students who don’t know the acts, and have no idea how to behave at a gig, cue: crowd-surfing galore, inexplicable indie moshpits, and half-hour long ‘Wakefield!’ chants. So whilst the band are producing some excellent live renditions of “The Lights Went Out”, “You’re Gonna Lose Us”, and “What About Me?”, you find yourself secretly hoping that they arrive at their biggest hit “Hey Scenesters” pretty quickly, in the hope that the surging masses might just piss off afterwards. It arrived at the end of a set which surprisingly only lasted about 40 minutes, and as expected, set the room on fire once again.

The Cribs provided a fun, enthusiastic show; they sounded great, as long as you can get over the fact that some of their better output sounds like one or two decade-old Ash tunes. If you can see them outside of a union environment, make sure you do. If you can’t, go anyway, but take some riot gear and tear gas with you, as more than one person was injured by the horde of unrepentant halfwits.

Unsurprisingly though, stealthy bias aside, The Chalets were the pinnacle of the evening’s festivities. At the very least, the crowd weren’t actively ruining anything by shutting up and letting a great band do what they do best. For a half hour set, there was no attempt to attach ‘B52s meet the Killers’ style labels to them, and they were just great entertainment.

(Add a star to the rating if you’re not watching the show with a writhing mass of concentrated cretin)

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