I’m sure, like me, you’ve been enjoying the seemingly never-ending heatwave we’ve been experiencing in the UK. For a change, Manchester is no longer in constant downpour (though, funnily enough, it’s pissing it down as I write this…) and whilst it’s been a dream for the most part, the mere thought of being packed in like sardines in a sold out sweltering venue wasn’t the most pleasant.
But for a band like BODEGA – who I’d discovered on Sunday, figured out were playing Manchester on Monday and whose debut record I’d picked up after their show on Tuesday evening – it was very much a whatever the weather scenario.
Norman Records humorously clocked the Austin Brown production of their recently released debut ‘Endless Scroll’, out on the Parquet Courts affiliated What’s Your Rupture? label and the fact that it was recorded onto the same Tascam tape machine as ‘Light Up Gold’ and suggested “Guess who Endless Scroll sounds like”. Humorous, yes, but there’s no harm in this obvious nod of the head from the Brooklyn based collective.
In Manchester’s boiling Northern Quarter, the Parquet Courts comparisons come alive in Soup Kitchen through the likes of ‘Boxes For The Move’ and ‘How Did This Happen?!’, the former greeted with continuous applause at its culmination and the latter a hip-shaking, post-punk delight. The crowd remain lively throughout, lapping up everything on offer from these cool New Yoikers who announce early on that they “Come in peace”.
Computer clicks and nonsense computer chatter permeate the room on BODEGA’s arrival, whilst a computer mouse wrapped around the microphone stand ties in with some of the album’s themes of unwanted computer devotion and being unable to escape the black mirror (“All day at work, stare at computer. Come home from work, stare at computer”). Of the jerking, hypnotic ‘Bookmarks’, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Bodega Ben suggests the song is set in a dystopian universe (“2013…”)
Vocal duties are shared with the lively Nikki Belfiglio, whose frantic run through of the sweat-soaked, rapid punk-y disco jolt of ‘Gyrate’ is a joy. She later jokes of the World Cup’s complications on the evening, noting that her fellow stand up drummer Montana Simone is French, whilst the sound guy is Belgian. “If it sounds shit…”
Simone gives it some proper welly behind the kit, soon as sweaty as those shaking their arses down the front. They’re all glowing under the bright lights in fact, a great sign of how much the band are vibing off the crowd. Lead guitarist Madison Velding-Vandam intently eyeballs someone during the huge opening build to a real kraut-y extended blast of ‘Can’t Knock The Hustle’, giving it a right seeing to without taking his eyes off the punter. Elsewhere, he bounces off the super-strength bass line of Heather Elle on funky plink-plonk opener ‘Name Escape’.
Some pleb films the first half with his flash on – one can only assume that it was him who continuously farting throughout too… But otherwise the audience are devoted to BODEGA, erupting in cheers when ‘Charlie’ comes with a dedication to Mark E. Smith (“I’m sure he’s rolling in his grave now” – Bodega Ben).
The speed-run punk effort of ‘I Am Not A Cinephile’ is an unbelieveable rager, whilst ‘Jack In Titantic’ feels like a low-key instant classic. But it’s closer ‘Truth Is Not Punishment’ that leaves the lasting memory – An unreal 10 minute run through, full of unbelievable moments and a proper shift undertaken by the quintet. Velding-Vandam lets loose and rages through guitar solos that bring out shit-eating grins from all around. It’s a thrill – A constant pummelling, brilliant from start to finish.