A filthy night in old Lahndan Taahn, so it’s head down through the drizzle and fog as we jostle past lairy city boys and Jack The Ripper tour parties to the Brick Lane Biegel Bakery and then on to our rendezvous with Bombay Bicycle Club at 93 Feet East.
Bombay are another of those marvellously precocious, frightening assured teenage indie bands so adept at conveying the joys of youth through their music and lyrics while maintaining a Caulfield-esque weariness about it all at the same time. Singer and main songwriter Jack claims he is largely inspired by instrumental bands like Mogwai and writes all his lyrics at the last minute, sometimes only on the way to a gig or recording session. As a result they crackle with the spontaneity of the teenage experience, but snatched phrases betray a deeper anguish: “I don’t want to get much older” from ‘How Are You’, or “We never it thought it would be us but it can all fast turn to dust” from ‘The Hill’.
The gig itself is a strange one: half blushing kids being turned away from the bar, half ageing industry dudes drinking it dry. But Bombay Bicycle Club breeze through it with their usual serene confidence and a clutch of diaphanous indie-pop gems that alternately recall The Strokes and The House Of Love. They have the confidence of a band in no particular hurry and anyway, they can’t do much until they finish school in June – the same school, incidentally, as Cajun Dance Party. Bombay jokingly describe their relationship with Cajun as “not a competition… but a rivalry”. In fact Jack and Robbie from Cajun used to write together before forming their respective bands. Guitarist Jamie speaks for both bands when he says they want to get out of the underage scene, which is fair enough. Bombay have paid their dues at London’s under-18s nights where they’re always rapturously received, but they feel they need to prove themselves on a bigger stage. In any case, the under 18s have a new set of heroes in Jamie’s brother’s band, Lo-Fi Culture Scene: average age 13.
After 93 Feet East it’s a quick dash across Shoreditch to the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen to catch old Dollars To Pounds favourites Friendly Fires who have suddenly become spectacular. The surge of noise that consumes new single ‘Paris’ before the furious cowbell-fuelled rhythm breaks back in is genuinely mesmerising, while frontman Ed does everything short of whipping his shirt off and morphing into Bono before our eyes. Their triumphant melding of DFA, MBV and New Order is what the second Rapture album should have sounded like, and more.
Finally it’s a giddy stumble to Plastic People, and the comforting embrace of German deep-electro doyens Ame, Dixon and Henrik Schwarz. A filthy night, but also a life-affirming one.