IdlesIndependent Venue Week @ Studio2 2/2/18
Let’s be honest, punk died years ago, but occasionally its corpse creaks and twitches. The protagonists of the movement would be swelling with pride, as Bristol’s best go at punk ethic since The Pop Group are maturing into a vital and exciting act. Seeing them in this environment before the inevitable rise to longer sets and much bigger rooms is nervously exciting.
It’s the climax of the wonderful Independent Venue Week 2018. BBC 6Music have spent the week touring England and highlighting the benefits, wonders and issues that running a venue in these music streaming times presents. The week reaches a high-point here on Parr Street with a live broadcast from IDLES: the shouty five-piece are the epitome of what the week stands for. The venues that have helped them get to this position of being able to make a career out of what they now do is a testament to what these places stand for. With studios, rehearsal rooms and venues being squeezed out of the smaller satellite towns and the bigger towns downsizing due to cultural austerity, shining a light on what these places do is essential, and, for the BBC to actively support and shout about them is one of the most important things for new music right now.
With Idles being a case in point, one can imagine them jumping at the chance to get involved. Tonight, the rarefied air of post tea-time is shattered by the aggro-punk every-night-is-bonfire-night of Idles. 6.30pm on a freezing February evening is one way of kick starting the weekend. Being broadcast to the nation should give any band an excuse to temper the show and be a little more careful. Not here. The band do their required 30 minutes and bounce back after the broadcast to throw us some more as they don’t want “rip anyone off”.
Studio2 is definitely an intimate show and it more than satisfies all parties’ criteria. You can see the whites of the eyes, smell the sweat and feel the globs of spittle that frontman Joe gobs in the air at various points. Although the free tickets given out to Liverpool postcode holders isn’t making the place ‘sold-out’, it does lend an air of curiosity from the rather aging crowd which only adds to the expectation. The performance is so intense that the expectation is met by the end of Stendhal Syndrome, the opening track. As the effects of the first pint kick in, the band launch into the brilliant Well Done and thus make it a more effective stormer. Mother is self-edited as apparently you can’t use the word “fucker” on daytime radio and kudos to the new song, Lovesong, with the lyrics affirming the author’s love for their partner because they bought them a card.
Idles are the real thing: they mean it maaaan. They are quite simply one of the best live bands driving their battered van around the country right now. And they will only get better. Brilliant.