Photography: Darren Aston

International Teachers Of Pop

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  • Los Bitchos
  • Beija Flo
Harvest Sun @ District 23/2/19

District in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle is another one of those repurposed industrial spaces that oozes urban cool and boasts a brilliant sound system and punchy acoustics. It’s a fitting venue for Sheffield’s INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP to close out their successful tour.

Liverpool’s BEIJA FLO opens proceedings with half an hour of bittersweet, darkly comic musings layered with plenty of self-deprecating humour and offbeat tales. Flo’s presence on stage is wildly contrasting, all at once inhabiting a vulnerable yet defiant persona, holding the audience with a steady gaze and wry observations. Her music is pop electronica and her touch is deft with melodies and avant-garde flourishes encircling her remarkable voice. Think the squeak and pop of Lene Lovich, the poise of Siouxsie Sioux cloaked in an Essex drawl and you have some kind of magical chimera. Her Bolan-esque glam makeup is effortlessly cool and she owns the room.

LOS BITCHOS follow and are a force of nature. Consisting of bass, two guitars, a keytar and drums they groove and move in unison as if The Shadows, a Mariachi band and Stealing Sheep had been gene-spliced to create hypnotic Cumbian rhythms. Everyone is into this, the band jam, swaying in synch, riffing off each other, smiling broadly as the audience party. They are ineffably cool, hitting us with wave after wave of dubby bass and hypnotic drones. They all hug each other at the end, which is really nice.

International Teachers Of Pop are a kind of a throwback, echoing a time when electronic music was all about having fun. They obviously enjoy performing and this comes across in their exuberant performance. The Moonlandingz’ founders Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer have hit upon a formula that works. Their sound could be described as radiophonic disco, chock full of blurry analogue lines and spacey synth pads.

Leonore Wheatley and Katie Mason provide the drive and vocals, close harmonising to lend a West Coast 60s psychedelic vibe to the churning electronics of the guys either side of them. They pull shapes and groove like the cool girls at a disco, pulling the audience along on their sleigh-ride of electronic pyrotechnics.

Heady renditions of Age Of The Train, The Ballad Of Remedy Nilsson, She Walks and Praxis Makes Prefect take us through the Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, Human League and Ladytron badlands. There’s fun to be had here. A krautrock version of Another Brick In The Wall is a highlight, being a truly original interpretation of a song so ingrained in the psyche that it’s at first jarring as we attempt to process all the angular lines and Teutonic posturing.

Blasting through their repertoire, International Teachers Of Pop barely give the audience a chance to breath between songs. The stillness of Flanagan and Honer behind their keyboards is offset by Wheatley and Mason’s dancing as they beam and twirl with impish glee.

  Things wind down and they exit stage left. Everybody gets fidgety as the house lights remain dimmed, they then re-emerge to much cheering and close the gig with After Dark, a tune so giddy it could have been written on helium.

This is a night of music for music’s sake, for those who wanted to enjoy the communal spirit of seeing artists enjoying their craft, to dance, to bounce and to leave with warm ears ringing.

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