Earlier this year a school friend of mine posted a song on her Facebook wall. The title intrigued me so I had a little listen and instantly fell in love with it. The band was called Bleachers, hailing from New Jersey in the USA, and the song was ‘Don’t Take The Money’. Immediately I was on Spotify and You Tube trying to find whatever else I could by this group and I was delighted with what I found.
Lead by Jack Antonoff, who has played with Fun – a band I listened to on repeat a few years ago – the Bleachers sound is a friendly mix of retro 80’s inspired kind of indy pop songs that are so catchy it is almost infuriating. A great blend of emotional and personal lyrics with old school synth flair, drum machine beats and a sprinkling of saxophone.
I happened to see they were performing in London which made me more than a little excited but the show had sold out – sadness. Cut to a couple of months ago when I stumbled across another London date on the tour promoting their latest album, Gone Now, that still had tickets available. Cue squeals.
Koko is my favourite gig venue in town. It has such an elegant music hall vibe about it and while the maroon interior with gold finishes could be incredible kitsch it absolutely carries it off – plus they have the biggest mirror ball I’ve ever seen. I feel like I’m inside a wedding cake whenever I visit. At less than 1500 capacity it’s also just the right size to generate a fantastic intimate atmosphere. The interior of layered balconies means one can get as close as you’re comfortable with and still have a decent view of the stage.
|Setting the scene|
The atmosphere last week was so joyful. I was surprised to see the crowd was dominated by guys (I thought the opposite was more likely) and there was certainly what I would describe as a ‘nerdvana’ trend among the fans. We arrived midway through the support band Bassh who held their own and captured the attention of the room despite not being the main attraction.
It felt like Christmas morning as the lights dimmed for the main act and the crowd erupted. A high level of energy was maintained throughout the show as Antonoff communicated with the crowd and involved us in the show.
Since the group formed only in 2014 they played a majority their material which meant nobody was disappointed. For a relatively new band, their fan base proved very dedicated. Many of my fellow gig goers knew every word to every song and sang along with wonderful enthusiasm.
This same enthusiasm came from the stage, with all the musicians seemingly having a fantastic time along with the crowd. We all were involved in singing happy birthday to the drummer which helped elevate the energy in the room further, and cheered wildly as Antonoff competed against his saxophone player in an epic ‘guitar and sax off’.
|Bringing ‘saxy’ back|
In a quieter moment mid show, Antonoff held the stage on his own and tugged at all our hearts strings with solo ballads, including ‘Like a River Runs’ a Fun song called ‘Carry On’ which has some emotional memories for me. The band soon returned and all too soon closed the show with their most famous numbers, ‘Rollercoaster‘ and of course ‘Don’t Take The Money’. I couldn’t help bouncing and singing along with the crowd.
I have not left a gig so sweaty since seeing the Libertines, but my euphoria also meant I didn’t care. It was such a joyful night with a wonderfully warm and memorable atmosphere. While I had found their recorded sound infectious, their live sound was so much richer and bolder and is definitely superior.
I was tempted at the merchandise stand to buck my tradition of buying a t-shirt and instead go for a jigsaw puzzle – nice to see a novel souvenir, something other than a tea towel for sale. I decided to stick with the t-shirt, and maybe get a jigsaw next time, since there definitely will be a next time.