Male Bonding – Live Review

10/06/2010

By Andy Oskwarek

My Photos | zoe jenkin | MALE BONDINGMale Bonding have been making a name for themselves in London over the past couple of years releasing a truckload of singles and constantly playing gigs. They managed to get themselves signed to Sub Pop who put out their wonderful debut album ‘Nothing Hurts’ last month.

It’s an album full of killer hooks, youthful punk spirit and pop sensibilities and every track sounds like it should be a single. It’s the kind of record that should make for a frantic and exciting live performance.

Support comes from Pens, another act who have been generating some hype and keeping bloggers busy of late. They are an all girl three piece peddling a blend of lo-fi, noise and power pop, and have found themselves being mentioned in the same breath as Times New Viking, Wavves, and tonight’s headliners Male Bonding, who they have released a split EP with. They totally fail to live up to this billing.

The first couple of tracks plod along inoffensively enough sounding like a cross between Joy Division and The Raincoats, but the charm soon wears off. While the DIY scene with which Pens are associated doesn’t always require the greatest levels of musicianship their songs lack the tunes to compensate for such inabilities. For the last couple of tracks the girls rotate instruments, proving beyond doubt that none of them are very good at playing anything.

When Male Bonding begin their set the venue is barely half full, and it doesn’t get any busier throughout. The crowd is strangely muted and motionless and the band seems unable to inject any life into them. This is in no small part down to the sound quality. The songs maintain the blistering pace of their recorded counterparts, but little else. Everything is covered in so much reverb that for large spells the only discernable sound is the snare drum. The vocals are barley noticeable and everything else sounds like a washed out mess.

My Photos | steve gullick | MALE BONDING‘Franklin,’ provides a brief respite as one of the slower songs in the set and temporarily allows the individual instruments to be audible, while ‘Pumpkin’ succeeds in prompting a half hearted attempt at pogoing from a couple of audience members. Other than this there are precious few highlights to speak of.

It’s all over within half an hour, and unsurprisingly the band don’t come back out for an encore. The overriding feeling of the evening is one of disappointment. The melodic side of Male Bonding was totally absent, and while it’s easy to imagine the set they have just played going down brilliantly at house party it just didn’t work at a larger venue, half full, and with a generally unenthusiastic audience. The real shame of it all is that they have such great songs and failed to them justice.




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