MILO GREENE/ POLLY SCATTERGOOD
During the week, I currently live in a Travelodge in the most boring town in the history of towns (possibly) and so I am always looking to reasons to escape (true story). Thankfully, tonight is just one such reason. And the bands, and this cool little venue, welcome me into civilisation. Thank f-ck for that. They don't even point and laugh at my massive furry hat here. God love 'em.
Though I was granted a plus one entry to this gig, the people that I know in the West Sussex area where I have to live Mon-Fri generally think that a trip to Brighton on a school night is like a trip to the moon. Sadly, it's not but not knowing anyone else in the vicinity willing to join me, I went to the gig on my own. I told a few people about this afterwards and they were incredulous. But actually, I quite liked it. There is no-one moaning about how crap the band is, there is no-one interrupting a good song you like to rabbit on about something else; there is no-one clockwatching because they need to get an early night. The only downfall is that I drink my pint too quickly because I'm not gassing.
Anyway, I can't believe that support act, Polly Scattergood
(her real name), is in her mid-twenties. She looks very young. Or
maybe I'm just looking older. I think it is her awkward stage presence
that makes her appear somewhat amateur. So I'm surprised to later
find out that she's been around since 2009. From London via Colchester,
she attended the Brit School and wrote hundreds of songs that made
Dermot and Steve Lamacq shout about her quite a lot at the time. She's
just about to release a new record so perhaps they will again. In
fact, they more than likely will as she sounds very fashionable, a
bit like Niki and the Dove, I think. There is also an unenviable and
inevitable comparison to Florence and the Machine, for her moody,
quirky storytelling over some technical wizardry, for which a little
man in a beanie is also here present. Indeed, there is some nicely
romantic, pseudo-poetic electro-pop going on here that you'll either
be sick to the back teeth of or, er, give in. Though it's inspiring
to see someone so passionate about her craft, at the same time Ms
Scattergood struggles to be original; heavy on the synth and Moog,
she mostly talks about French knickers, heartache and sleeping with
the wrong men. She also wears a half-camo/half-gold sequinned jacket
and she gesticulates weirdly with her hands in a tortured kind of
way. There is a double-knob twiddling moment from her and her backing
boy. It's all very Shoreditch. I've said my piece. I did enjoy it
though, despite cringing a little in a few places. http://www.myspace.com/pollyscattergood
And, being such a polished individual, Polly is in stark contrast to Milo Greene, both musically and in appearance. Because tonight's headliners look like quite a bohemian bunch of hippies. Not surprising as they hail from Los Angeles and, halfway through their set, throw in a cover of 'Chicago' by Surfjan Stevens, an obvious hero, whose sound is largely similar to their own. It's the biggest reaction they get, which is a shame, because they are really good. Multi-instrumentalists, the band consists of a token subtly glamorous blonde and four boys of varying levels of attractiveness, all singers so there are also varying levels of harmony during each song too, the perfect example being the almost choral-like opening of 'Perfectly Aligned' before it descends into something more anthemic, a little like Beach House, courtesy of Mariana Sheetz (the blonde) and her voice.
However, my attention is still drawn to the boys of the band, particularly the be-bearded Graham Fink and less beardy Robbie Arnett, whose charisma makes them more natural frontmen. That said, Fink, particularly, has a certain confidence, though I can't decide if it borders on arrogance. He keeps going on about the stage being too small and, while all five often joke with each other throughout the evening, they also have a nonchalant presence of a band that know they're cool. Which would be a bit of a turn-off if their music wasn't quite so cute. With lots of shouting and whooping to spur each other on, and the odd breathy vocal, Milo Greene play nothing original but altogether heartwarming Americana, with a grace that, if I was more poncey, I would describe as 'organic'.
But I'm not poncey so I'll just say that we all know that the folk-thing is very much in at the moment (see bands like Mumford and Sons winning Grammys and The Staves- if you like them, you will like Milo Greene). It's all very jolly and good-humoured. There are particular moments of comfort during stand-out tracks 'Silent Way' and 'Don't you give up on me' in an uncomplicated, huggy kind of a way, which will appeal to older fans and young kids who enjoy jumping in a lake for a laugh. Or even older people who like doing that sort of thing too. In short, Milo Greene were just what I needed on a rubbish, dreary January night and, as the mirror ball spinning overhead grinds to a halt, I couldn't be happier that they are staying in the Brighton Travelodge too. I bet they're in the Seafront one though, not the crappy one about a mile's walk away. Oh well. At least I'm here. Someone lost their clothes on the way out. The debut album's out now. You will probably see them a lot this summer. Which will be nice.