Sunday, 19 October 2008

Moshi Moshi 10th Birthday Party @ London Matter

Brands. Everywhere. On your television. On your clothes. On your street. In your record and CD collection.

I like to consider myself a relatively free thinking and open minded individual who is not subject to the marketing mans every whim; but these days it is virtually impossible to get away from some brand expression as part of your personality. And if I had to choose a record label that represented me as a brand then Moshi Moshi would certainly be one of my high level choices. I love Moshi Moshi for its eclecticism, quirkiness, vibrancy and colour that sometimes hits the mainstream and sometimes doesn’t. From the electronic springiness of Hot Chip to adventurous indie rockin’ Bloc Party, Moshi Moshi were there releasing the bands first singles.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary Moshi Moshi took over the prestigious new super club Matter, recently opened by the owners and founders of the almost legendary status Fabric, and threw themselves a bit of a shin dig, with DJ’s and a host of bands.

There has been an incredible amount of publicity about Matter, particularly its vibrating ‘Body Kinetic Dancefloor’ and stylish interior. The club itself, which is part of the 02 Dome complex in Greenwich, feels rather like an industrial space age multi storey car park, heavy on harsh concrete and steel, with exposed services and projections on nearly every service. Although primarily intended as a club, the two room venue can easily function as a gig venue as well. Tonight Moshi Moshi provide a party that goes on till seven in the morning, and a mix of some of its bands past and present.

The venue is still filling up when Kate Nash takes to the stage in a flurry of sequins to kick things off in the smaller of the two rooms. Anyone expecting bitter lemon sucking keyboard pop is in for a shock tonight as Kate dispenses with her piano and for a short while becomes an indie mentalist. Starting with a foul worded poem about groupies, she kicks off her shoes, grabs a megaphone and jumps up and down whilst screaming to distortion. It is a far cry from the heavily produced pop of Pumpkin Soup and Mouthwash. Strapping on a guitar she races through a set which for those looking forward to Foundations etc would disappoint. The only song she plays from her debut album is Birds, a beautiful tender and simple song which deals with the inarticulacy of young love. She also wheels out her very first single, the scrappy opinion dividing Caroline’s A Victim, which was of course released on Moshi Moshi. Half an hour later she thanks Moshi Moshi, flashes her eyes and with a sparkle is gone. Judged on this performance, what Kate Nash does next is anybodies guess.

The Mae Shi open the main room with their physical rock n shout n roll. The band throw out huge multicoloured parachute sheets over the audience to cover them, whilst they bash out their ambitious guttural yet glistening punishing lo fi sound that sounds like the toys are having a riot in the nursery. Guitars growl, keyboards shriek, vocals scream and ears tremble. Run To Your Grave is an electric knife stabbing, withdrawing, and stabbing again, just for fun. Let's get murdered.

Florence from Florence and the Machine arrives on stage in sparkly hot pants, tuxedo, white blouse and bow tie and proceeds to bash hell out of a single drum at the front of the stage before twirling and whirling like a ravaging spinning top. Florence has a big set of lungs that deliver the goods, part soulful, part wailing harpy. Her whole performance seems full of chaotic energy, but it is only when she almost pulls the clothes of her keyboard player and proceeds to have a girl fight on the floor of the stage with her that things seem just a little contrived, having seen her do exactly the same thing last time I saw her play. Having said that her smoking confident tribal melee of sound gets the crowd bouncing, particularly during the controversial turbo charged single Kiss With A Fist which packs the required emotional punch.

Back in room two, Slow Club, the fluffier alt country White Stripes, suffer a few technical problems and endure the fate of a band whose quieter jangling pop songs require a quiet respectful audience, rather than a crowd who have had a few drinks and now fancy a chat. Sporting the first bad moustache of the evening, co vocalist Charles Watson harmonises perfectly with drummer Rebecca Taylor and despite the technical issues they make it to the end with their infectious cuteness.

Infectious cuteness continues with Tilly and the Wall who are becoming a bona fide glittering, tinsel wearing cartoon pop band with added tap dancing. Even a guitarist with another bad moustache cannot stop the joy of current single Beat Control and a surprisingly well received cover version of Erasure’s A Little Respect. They end firing ticker tape into the audience and bouncing off with obvious joy.

It is left to Hot Chip to bring the party to a climax, which they do with ease. Warning that they “Might get a bit punk,” Hot Chip are sounding harder, tougher, funkier and dirtier than ever, with the songs sounding far more exciting than the recorded versions, turning Matter into a full on hands in the air experience from opener One Pure Thought, through Shake A Fist, Over and Over, to Ready For The Floor. The band have to plea to the crowd to take a step back to stop those at the front from being crushed and are even the subject of a couple of celebratory stage invasions. Hot Chip now have justifiable cause to claim the crown as best dance band in the UK.

I wish when I was 10 years old I’d had a birthday party like this. Maybe when I’m 40 instead ? Any takers ?

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