A Hawk And A Hacksaw @ The Bullingdon – 22/04/11

6 hours of music? It’s a bloody marathon. But apparently that’s how Pindrop Performances, the curators and ace local bookers of tonight’s events, roll. And in what must have been somewhat of a triumph for the guys, they’ve managed to secure those darlings of the traditional folk scene, A Hawk And A Hacksaw. You know, the guy who was in Neutral Milk Hotel? Who went to Hungary for a year and came back itching to share? No? Well he did, and he was, and they have, and tonight is where it all goes down.

First up though, a couple of local bands are let out of the stable. From the passionate if messy dark indie of Braindead Collective (featuring the stunningly-voiced Rob St. John on guitar and vocals), to Message To Bears, the dual acoustic guitar post-rock soundscrapers of the clenchmyteethandblowuponadendelion variety (beautiful), to Cat Matador, for whom Message To Bears’ EQ is somewhat of a hangover (and whose songs kind of fail ever to break into anything).

After a quick interlude featuring the droning moves of Moyle, Brickwork Lizards begin a fantastic set, blending a myriad of influences and instruments to really create something unique. Unfortunately sometime around the second song a drunk man from the 50s wanders on and tries raps along to the rest of the set. Not appropriate. Not necessary. Not nice. We Aeronauts on the other hand are nice. Very nice. Tweely nice. Their songs are a lovely collection of floating anecdotes, and though far more hectic live than on tape, they still come across as big kids. In a good way.

A Hawk And A Hacksaw finally take to the stage, to applause and cameras, and the reception is outstanding. But there’s something wrong. Maybe I’m a cynic. But despite the outstanding musicianship (Jeremy Barnes really is an incredible accordion player), and the lovely music, the entire set feels misplaced. This is dance music. Yet no one dances. When the band descend to the floor around 15 minutes in, and play facing each other in the crowd, there seem to be more lenses than faces. The flashes are deafening. It’s unfortunate, but no matter how I try, the nagging feeling remains that the music has been transplanted into a mismatched culture, one which lives for watching personalities onstage, rather than passing them on the street corner. The band play with a smug self-assurance, a sense of ‘hey, check me out, I’m playing Hungarian music! Listen to me!’, that ruins the entire point of introducing this music in the first place. Brickwork lizards did the job far better – having fun. That’s what music is about.

When at 10:30 the band leave the stage, I feel cheated. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Barnes seems like a bit of a self-obssessed wanker, someone all too impressed with his own worldliness and culturedness. But it’s my fault too. All too often, we watch music. The rest of the world dances to it, and tonight has thrown the cultural difference into all too harsh a relief.

One thought on “A Hawk And A Hacksaw @ The Bullingdon – 22/04/11”

  1. andrewjskatz

    Great review. I was gutted by Hawk and a Hacksaw. I think Barnes getting pissed off with the sound man didn’t help. I last saw them at the Holywell Music Room, which was perfect for them (and I which was arguably my best gig of all time). I first saw them at ATP with Balacz Unger on Cimbalom, and they were awesome.

    Pindrop did us proud by selecting some great bands. It just felt slightly weird being in a darkened room while there was beautiful spring sunshine outside. Message to Bears was probably my favourite band of the line up.