Is that Barney the Dinosaur up on stage at the O2 Academy? Oh, no, it’s Alkaline Trio. Getintothis’ Orla Foster catches some teenage angst and more besides on Sound City day one.
Following a disarming cocktail of cancelled trains and wristband mix-ups, it’s with some sheepishness that we find ourselves outside the bombed out church at 9pm. Meanwhile Tina, In The Green Dress, the band we need to see, are playing inside.
Still, the big advantage with open air venues is that you can hear what’s going on inside. From the brief, enigmatic snippets we’ve read about Tina, In The Green Dress, they’re a band keen to cultivate an air of mystery, and having your songs rise from the top of a ruined church is fairly in keeping with that.
So the “glitterdoom duo” (as they describe themselves online) are still perfectly audible, and their slightly portentous synth-laced pop isn’t lost on those of us on the fringes of the venue.
It all sounds a little on the dour side, however, and lyrics such as “Foxy foxy hold me close, love me like the holy ghost” come across as odd to say the least. Sadly, we’ve no idea if there was a lavish stage set-up to set the peculiar lyrics in context.
The night then gives way to Chicago punk-rock trio Alkaline Trio, who are playing at the O2 Academy to a crowd of dedicated fans harmonising off-key. The band are revered for their melodic take on punk, with three minute tales of rage and disappointment appealing perfectly to the tortured adolescent.
Older songs such as Warbrain and Nose Over Tail get the best reactions, and it’s obvious the crowd are delighted to be there, the majority punching the air at frequent intervals.
Guitarist Matt Skiba and bassist Dan Andriano share singing duties, and it’s true that Skiba’s darkly comic lyrics, relying heavily on skeletons, alcohol and post-mortems, sometimes seem a little forced. Can you really rely on angst this much, when you aren’t 15 any more?
Nevertheless, it’s Andriano who represents more of a human side to the band. He’s a little heavy on the adenoids – close your eyes for a moment and it could be Barney the Dinosaur up there on stage.
But if his lyrics are anything to go by, then he’s the godfather of getting things wrong and feeling like a creep. And that, of course, is a sensation that carries on well into adulthood.
Finally, there’s the Heartbreaks from Morecambe, who are having their sound tinkered with for a fair while at the Shipping Forecast. In fact, it’s taking so long that the band themselves are beginning to look a little queasy, a little green about the gills.
The sickening screeches of feedback die off eventually, however, and just when the audience are contemplating moving on, something gets fixed and all is redeemed as the band fall seamlessly into their set. Bringing with them the air of romance and yearning native to all tawdry seaside towns, the Heartbreaks offer up a charming combination of tight curls and tattoos.
With a recent album produced by Edwyn Collins, it’s evident that the band look up to the coquettish indie stylings of Postcard outfits in the 80s. You’ll need quite a sweet tooth for them, however, and their jangly love songs won’t be for everyone. Singer Matthew Whitehouse exhibits a shy swagger which may be a little affected – lashings of confidence and coyness at the same time.
Still, tonight they’re impassioned and giving it all they’ve got. Like the Crookes before them, they’re a band who know to iron their shirts before a show. Definitely something the young girls are going to be racing down the streets for.