Rat Boy, Zibra, FLESH: Studio 2, Liverpool



Following on from Jordan Cardy’s acclaimed Rat Boy Mixtape, Getintothis’ Del Pike catches him in the intimate settings of Studio 2.

The first thing we saw on entering Studio 2 on Friday night was the CCTV image of a roomful of teenage girls and we thought we had come to the wrong venue or the wrong night. A glance through Rat Boy’s videos suggest his audience would consist of similar looking teenage boys, of the hanging round outside the offy on small bikes variety, but no, clearly we were in the midst of a new teenage heart-throb. Studio 2 was an unusual venue for this kind of event and we feared the bar was closed as it took a while before we spotted anyone with drinks, then the penny dropped, we were in a very small minority of over 18s. Takings at the bar must have been an all-time low.

Social media suggested without doubt that this was a sold out show, but it was only half full, however, the audience, of whom many were certainly experiencing their first gig, filled the room with anxious joy and anticipation. Rat Roy himself, 19-year-old Jordan Cardy from Chelmsford, could be seen cavorting with the girls (and boys), living the dream and posing for selfies like a natural as support band ZIbra tried their best to excite the already trampolining crowd.

Zibra’s shameless 80s posturing, channelling Planet Earth era LeBon clashed heavily with the urban 21st century realism that was to follow. The bequiffed and stripy t-shirted vocalist Sam Battle has all the moves to entice the teens and croons “You can be my heartache baby” with passion, but the sound is hollow, and synths n’ samples sound like they belong to those bands who sat on the peripheries of the charts when The Thompson Twins and Spandau Ballet were at the heart of the party. Liberal droppings of the F-Bomb for gritty effect couldn’t hide the fact that Zibra have an identity crisis right now. If bands like Big Pink can get away with this kind of retro bombast then maybe Zibra have a chance but they were a strange choice for support for the much earthier suburban indie of Rat Boy. Fellow Bootle alumni boys, photographer John and ourselves agreed that the Zibra sound and the clientele re-created the vibe of a Hugh Baird College do from about 25 years ago. Zibra didn’t earn their stripes for us tonight.

During the changeover we managed to catch a few words with Jordan and his band who despite their angsty protestations in their music were incredibly charming and polite. Jordan, looking very much like The Inbetweeners’ Jay in a Madchester beanie, introduced his mates to us and enthused about how important it was to play Liverpool as he is a big Beatles fan. “Love ‘em”, a comment as surprising as his fanbase. Jordan himself was shocked at how many young girls had turned up and told us that this hadn’t necessarily been the case in other towns, such as Nottingham where they had also visited this week.

We asked him if The Beatles had anything to do with the decision to sign with Parlophone, who release his debut album soon, and he agreed, adding it was “to do with Blur too”. When we discussed influences Jordan was keen to compare his music with that of The Streets, The Clash and The Beastie Boys, and in fairness once onstage he absolutely ticked each of those boxes. Charming as ever he snook in a cheeky photo shoot for us and headed to the stage to the sort of adolescent screams you would expect at a McBusted gig.

What became apparent as soon as the gig kicked off was Jordan’s vocal likeness to Mick Jones, but more B.A.D than Clash, possibly helped by imaginative samples from British pop culture that belie the average age of the band, Thames TV’s opening sting for example, forever linked with The Sweeney, and the “I Want Some More” line time-hopped from Oliver.

There is no avoiding the similarities to the tortured streetwise warblings of Pete Doherty too and at this point in time Jordan deserves the role of the mouthpiece to deliver anthems for doomed youth than the middle aged Libertines frontman, recently seen signing a new deal with tan and shorts in Thailand. It’s a no-brainer as to which one is feeling the toe of Cameron’s boot up their arse more right now.  Like The Specials, Mike Skinner and Doherty before him, Jordan speaks from the heart and during Sign On when he laments about losing his job at Wetherspoons it’s because he has. His no bullshit approach makes songs like the phenomenal Knock Knock sound so much more powerful, not unlike a 21st century Ghost Town and draws constant parallels with the equally astounding King Krule.

We were surprised out how impressive the Rat Boy experience was tonight as it really doesn’t come across in the videos they have produced. The promo for ID makes Jordan look a bit like his mum has knitted him which makes it difficult to digest the content of his council estate barbs, but live the band are loud and tight and Jordan himself is a mean guitarist. They come across as a not so nasty little punk band rather than the pretenders to The Streets throne we expected. The bang on 30 minute set is brought to a close with the two songs that have paved their way to this debut tour, Sign On and Fake ID. Sign On with its quirky Supergrass Alright-esque video of the band driving around the estate in a Burberry Metro and catchy as hell chorus would have been a dead cert for Christmas Top of the Pops a decade ago, but oh how times have changed.

The screams that greet set closer I.D. cement the fact that Rat Boy’s following can only increase, and the lone security guy at the front has his work cut out for him. The barrier free stage at Studio 2 could have led to a health and safety apocalypse but two stage invaders was the sum of the mayhem.  Until the album we can make do with Rat Boy’s sterling six track mixtape. With the right marketing there’s no reason why Rat Boy will not be a household name within the next six months.

Pictures by Getintothis’ John Johnson.




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