Male Bonding @ The Buffalo Bar, London 14/07/2011

July 17, 2011 by  

As 2Pac’s ‘Changes’, for some reason, blasted out of the sound system at the Buffalo Bar, Male Bonding skulked onto the stage. The 90s hip-hop faded, lead singer John Arthur Webb thanked everyone for coming, and the band immediately burst into their upcoming album, Endless Now. These guys clearly don’t mess around.

It’s always a little strange when a band plays new songs for their fans, who, for the most part, haven’t heard them before, but this only seemed to make everyone more eager to hear what was next, however unfamiliar it might be. And, considering this may have been among the first times they’ve played these songs to a live audience, the trio that is Male Bonding owned the stage. Their performance wasn’t particularly energetic; definitely not as energetic as the crowd, but they didn’t need to be ? they were ringleaders of the noise that surrounded them, confident in their own quality. Like highly advanced lo-fi garage-pop machines, they relentlessly churned out hook after hook without any respite. Male Bonding are known for their catchy hooks, and there’s evidently no shortage of them on Endless Now. As a result, Webb’s interaction with the crowd was fairly limited, and he didn’t pause to introduce any of the new material, instead favouring blasts of feedback and fuzz between songs.

A few better-known songs from Nothing Hurts were also thrown into the mix, and ‘Weird Feelings’ and ‘Franklin’ provoked particularly strong reactions from the crowd. They sounded far more raw and powerful live than on the album, though, and the reverb-soaked guitar melodies were often overpowered by loud, fuzzy, bass and drums ? not that this was a particularly bad thing, because it made for a more unrefined and aggressive sound. On a similar note, the vocals throughout the performance were almost inaudible, fighting for, and often losing, prominence over the other instruments. Although, again, this didn’t really detract from the overall performance, because it kinda just worked. Webb’s vocals have never really been all that prominent in recordings anyway, it just would’ve been nice to hear a few lyrics.

All in all, it was mainly an efficient and high quality presentation of the band’s new material. The venue was perfect for them, and being within touching distance of Male Bonding in the small, dark, basement-like Buffalo Bar was like being shut into a Tupperware box with an active hand grenade. In a good way.