Watching BODEGA launch their new album (‘Broken Equipment’) was a must-see event.
I go to a lot of gigs.
Maybe not as many gigs as a few people I know of course, but way more than is probably healthy for a 50+ year-old who really ought to know better.
That said, on the age thing, I’m more than a little concerned that I’m finding myself at the younger end of the age scale when I’m out to watch bands that my 16-year-old self would have chewed his own arm off to be at.
It really makes me wonder what the kids are doing these days when it comes to live music.
And this BODEGA gig is a classic case in point.
The band may not be teenagers themselves anymore, but their music has what must surely be a ferociously youthful appeal. It’s loud and slightly shouty, but at the same time tuneful, poignant and thoughtful. It tells stories and asks questions.
The Doers – BODEGA
But here we are in the heart of Brighton at a matinee event put on due to the huge demand for tickets for last night and tonight’s regular shows, and there’s hardly a face under 45 in the room.
The Albert isn’t a big venue by any stretch of the imagination… but it’s one of those live music spaces with real soul. Again, exactly the sort of place a far younger me would have hoped allowed in under-18s so I could experience the visceral energy of one of my favourite acts playing live, up close, and personal.
As Ben, Nikki, Dan, Adam, and Tai push through the crowd to mount the stage there is barely rook for them to squeeze the short distance from the door, and there’s an electricity in the air, as expectations are high for the next hour of post-punk, alt-art rock…or whatever you like to try and pigeonhole BODEGA as.
This is a debate I’d hoped to have with the band before the show, but circumstances conspired to mean a planned interview had to be rain-checked.
What’s in a (genre) name?
It’s a question I’ve kicked around for the past two-or-so years as I’ve increasingly found myself drawn to bands such as Squid, Dry Cleaning, Sports Team, and, of course, BODEGA. What is the genre that best describes these acts and a multitude of others who to greater or lesser degrees would seem to fit into the same rack at the local record store? What should me on that magical little label at the start of their section that would tell you that you’d hit pay dirt and it was time to plough through a golden seam of musical discovery?
It’s a thorny problem, because we’ve already been through a slew of ‘Post Punk’ scenes. ‘No Wave’ was taken as a moniker decades ago. So how to describe this sound and style without harking back to the past and falling into the arguably lazy journalism of derivative musical descriptions?
But immediately after throwing down that challenge I find myself slipping straight back into the old habit of trying to describe a band’s music by reference to other groups.
BODEGA have flavours running through them that I find reminiscent of Pixies, B52s, and maybe even Jonathan Richman. And somewhere in the words is a smattering of New York era) Lou Reed.
Plot lines and social observation weave dextrously through every song.
This is as true of their fresh-off-the-press new long player, ‘Broken Equipment’ as it was of their first LP release, ‘Endless Scroll’ (both of which I bought on vinyl just before the start of the show).
What I only hope for, is that two near-perfect collections of songs with not a glimmer of a filler track between them bodes well for ‘that difficult third album’ when it arrives in a couple of year’s time.
And what about the gig?
Well all I can say is you’d be daft as a brush to miss this opportunity to see BODEGA in their triumphant 70-date march across the UK, Europe and back to the states.
Energy fizzes from the band to the crowd and back again in a perfect feedback loop of shared experience.
Ben is understated but powerful, Nikki is passionate and coy all at the same time, Tai is a percussive force of nature, Dan puts the guitar parts perfectly where they need to be, and Adam takes bass duties with a deadly seriousness.
The main thing to remember though is that it is all about the band being a vehicle for the songs – something that somehow seems to have been turned on its head by so many artists over the years.
So buy yourself a ticket – and buy another one for your favourite impressionable teenage nephew or niece, drag them along, and convert them to the church of gig.