‘Citizen’ feat. WIM, Guineafowl and i like cats, Level 4 Kings Cross Hotel – 6th May, 2010

Words: Michael Carr

Pictures: Kurt Davies

When I first heard that WIM were doing a six-week residency at The Kings Cross Hotel, I was a little surprised. Having always considered the establishment to have a very retirement home air about it’s décor and all the ambiance of an abortion clinic, it seemed odd to me that a band so dedicated to the atmosphere that surrounds their performances to be committing to such a long run of shows in such a venue. Once I arrived however, what I found was not the sterile and heartless empty room I had expected to find, but rather a room decked out with faux foliage, glitter sprinkled all over the floor, a wide range of lighting and in general just a really good vibe.

The residency entitled Citizen for some reason not immediately apparent to me is genius. It’s in the heart of the cross but it has the vibe of a low-key art gallery or warehouse party. You could go up to level five if the bands got to be too much or just if you were in the mood for more of a balcony and cocktail vibe. There were a few seats toward the back and the sound in the venue was so good it didn’t really matter where you stood you could hear the bands clearly. I wish someone had thought to saddle the bloated corpse that is the Kings Cross Hotel and breath new life into it earlier though, because after these six weeks the venue is going to be renovated apparently and probably fall back in line with the seedy, gangster riddled Leb-fest that the cross has turned into over the past few years.

Speaking of the cross, what the fuck has happened? I mean it was always bad, but it seems that over the past few years, with Barons and Deans getting closed down, not to mention the heinous act that is the attempted refurbs to the glorious seedy Hapton Court, that John Ibrahim and his gangster friends have completely taken over the place. The only time anything interesting seems to take place in Kings Cross any more is when a club, like say Favela a few years back, starts loosing so much money the Ibrahims can’t run their drug money through it any more so they bring in someone to put on a band night to increase the profits, only to kick the people back out on the street a few months later once the backpackers come back and they don’t need them any more.

Anyway I better stop this line of thought before I get get stabbed or shot repeatedly with a machine gun Chris Flannery style. Back to the music.

i like cats opened up the proceedings in their very own loud and involving way. Usually condemned to playing in venues with sub par sound whenever there is a decent crowd, the band eagerly made of use of the stunning mix on the night, churning out weighty slabs of bass, quirky rhythms and stunning guitar harmonies in a set that traversed their unique musical territory, from the lighter and quainter side to the gutty and visceral underbelly.

Starting the set with a reworking of old staple ‘A & B’, as well as offering up some at the time unheard new material such as the delightfully titled ‘Hey Guy, You Have To Pay For Climbing (And Now It Is Closed)’, the band seem to have been working hard on developing their sound, finding themselves an ever more original sound in the over-crowded world of post-rock.

Currently in the final stages of mixing their EP with BJB wunderkind and ex-Gerling beat merchant Burke Reid, let’s hope they’ll be able to get out and play some more shows over the coming months.

Next band up were Guineafowl, and I’m sorry but I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. Don’t get me wrong; what they do they do very well, but it’s just so fucking boring, I mean how many more indie electro bands can this world possibly support before it implodes in a vortex of image obsessed egomania and shallow sentiment. What I really don’t understand though is why they need six members to sound like a poor man’s version of The Knife.

I feel like I’m coming off harsher than I should. Really it’s not Guineafowl’s fault that I’m so angry and feel the need to rant, they are if anything one of the few examples of the genre that has the slightest shred of appeal. What upsets me so much that I feel compelled to subject you all to this tedious diatribe is that it’s all just so safe; there are no risks taken. It’s almost like they’re following a rule book of how to be a band written by Maximo Park.

They have plenty of talent though, but that only makes it worse in my mind. I would be quite excited to see what sort of music the band would come up with if they were to really try and experiment with it and push it further in terms of song structure, rhythm, and playing around with some darker melodies. Pretty much if they grew some balls.

But maybe I’m just turning into a jaded old man who’s lost touch with the kiddies, so please flame me in the comments if you disagree.

WIM, closing the night in their traditionally blissful manner, had the room packed with wavering harmonies and irresistible poppy guitar hooks along with a fair share of well dressed wolves swaying to and fro at the front. This band is the perfect example of making a sound your own; taking influences from Radiohead to The Beatles to Grizzly Bear, the band manage the difficult feat of owning their influences rather than renting them.

You can tell each member has made their own contribution to the band’s direction and the subsequent sound is therefore more organic and seems a truer representation of their personalities, the influences seeming more fleeting and coincidental as each member drifts to the fore before stepping back and allowing another to move forward.

Vocalist Martin Solomon is always a presence to behold and embrace on stage; charming and cheeky, crooning or swooning, he has an energy that is as delightful as it is infectious.

The rest of the band are equally impressive, seamlessly blending their component parts together into a entrancing shiny chorus of varied styles and sounds. You get the feeling that most of the members in the band are holding back somewhat, but they’re doing so to fit a theme and the effect is amazing as they all know just how far they can push things before it just becomes indulgent, meaning that each show is an exercise in tantric music, if you will, as the band bring you to the brink and back again before finally collapsing in climax at the end.

With the dance floor swaying from side to side WIM closed out the night with aplomb, showcasing a maturity and professionalism you’d expect of more experienced musicians. Having travelled to L.A. late last year to record new material, garnering praise for the likes of the L.A Times in the process, WIM are a band with their sights set high and the prospects looking bright, and with five more weeks left of this crazy tree lined night left you’d be a fool not pop in at least once to catch these guys before they shoot off to god knows where and do god knows what.

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