Live: The Flash Bang Band, Playgroup
After stepping into Playgroup tonight and being handed a foam animal mask, it's instantly apparent from the array of mad decorations that tonight is trying to be more than just a gig, a full on Saturday night bash. The venue, formerly known as Hector's House, is adorned with fairy tale backgrounds and brightly coloured scenery straight out of a children's television program. The frivolity is all due to tonight being Flash Bang Band's single launch and an Animal Imitation Party where robot costumes and TV monsters run riot.
It is ticking past nine o'clock though, and the first band on the bill Nordic Giants still haven't appeared on stage yet. Once they finally do though, it's a much shorter amount of time before the collective jaw of the room drops like an anvil. The local post-rock duo, complete with masquerade masks and convincingly tattoo-like body art, deliver a sweeping instrumental flurry of rich seductive trumpet lines and soothing violin-esque guitar bowing. All of this is placed in front of a series of equally brilliant thought-provoking films, a juxtaposition which definitely does justice to the phrase "must see".
With a collective age that probably hits well above most of the other bands tonight, Barringtone are an interesting addition to the line-up. Lead singer and guitarist Barry Dobbin, previously of Clor fame, brings an abstract sense of songwriting and for some of the audience, the tip-toeing guitar play woven between his jumpy vocal is just what they wanted. For others, their twitchy jams may not be incredibly captivating, but more simply something great to dance to.
The double A side single from Flash Bang Band released tonight features "Cupid" and "Can't Be Calm", both of which appear in their set and manage to get a raring-to-go crowd moving. Their brand of twee pop is fronted by Andy Halliday, who seems like he was made for the realms of all-out hook ridden pop. To get an idea of just how catchy these guys are, the song "I Want to Better Myself" is a great starting point. It’s a track so light-heartedly catchy that after just a few listens, it remains stuck in your head for days on end. They start this track to much of the crowd's delight, and usher in a drunken chorus yelling the tune back at them, leaving Playgroup with one of it's most unusual gigs yet.
Words by James Fox