The Cribs, The Automatic, Giant Drag

Liam McGrady 19/02/2006

Okay, here's my admission: until yesterday, I had only heard one or two songs by the brothers Jarman, and so this NME awards show is my first real introduction to the Wakefield three piece. After only an hour there are so many things I could say about The Cribs; and if you bear with me through the general bumf that is setting the scene and being nasty about some of the support bands, then you'll hear it all.
I arrived too late to catch Sheffield's The Long Blondes, but that just means that I've got less to write, which is a good thing because I'm inherently quite lazy. Giant Drag I did catch, and I liked them; a lot. Like Jack and Meg reversed the vocalist/Guitarist's voice projects right to the very back of the sold out Astoria Theatre; gutsy yet tender following a line of female singers that runs through Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and Cathy Davey, while the clever clogs drummer plays keyboard as well as giving his kit a good pounding. The overall sound is a thrilling mix of bluesy riffs and high velocity alt rock - I suppose the best compliment I can pay is that I'd buy the album.

The Automatic are something else (read that in an ironic tone). I severely dislike the keyboard/synth person after a second; and I hate him after three. What could provoke such a reaction? Well how about the way he prances round the stage like a tit banging a cowbell, constantly runs off to the side of stage urging the crowd to clap along like he's Freddie fucking Mercury, does some ridiculous dance - while stabbing one key - that's going to leave his knees and ankles crippled with arthritis in years to come, and generally acts like a fool in the first flush of NME afforded fame that's going to last for oh, about a week. Phew! Sorry about that rant, but if I hear another band who do that fast cymbal heavy dance-y drumming with staccato guitar and yelpy vocals I'm going to hunt Andy Gill down and get a mate to crouch behind him while I push him over.

And so to The Cribs. First thing to say I suppose is that some of the crowd really should pay more attention to what some songs are about; specifically 'Hey Scensters!' And I'll say no more about that. Apart from the fact that some of the crowd seem more bothered about how their flimsy scarf's are looking and flopping their hair from side to side (whoops!). Thankfully the rest of the crowd are more in the mood for a bit of air punching and a lot of crowd surfing; a spectacle that from the view from the back is as exciting as the music. And that's quite an achievement. 'I'm Alright Me' changes from the Strokesian amble to a frantic funk-stomp singalong (“take drugs! Don't eat!”), and 'Martell' makes the floor bounce, well technically the mass throng of simultaneous pogo-ing to the most feel good riff ever makes the floor bounce. Although the finale of instrument mangling and diving headlong into the crowd would pretty much be the highlight of most gigs; at most gigs you don't get to see three ordinary lads from Yorkshire powering through 'Mirror Kissers' - three and a half minutes of pure, perfect spiky guitar pop - making the likes of Kaiser Chief's et al positively dull.