Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

It’s turning out to be a particularly indie weekend. I was lucky enough to see The Mountain Goats last night while tonight I’ll be down the front for Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts. I’m pretty sure I’m spending more time at The Brudenell Social Club then I am at home at the moment but they will insist on putting on so many great acts. So with the latest episode of Rick & Morty temporarily put to one side I head down to everyone’s favourite social club for the second night in a row.

Tonight’s first support act, VwarpF, is already on stage when I walk into the Brudenell’s sparkly new Community Room. The band is the brainchild of Rachel Barker and they create the kind of raucous fuzz-pop that Saturday nights were made for. Proudly wearing a Jimmy Cauty ADP RIOT t-shirt Barker leads the three-piece through a set of noisy, Mary Chain-inspired tunes. Clearly addicted to feedback and fuzz, VwarpF put in a superb and casually assured set of rock ‘n’ roll. Now if only I knew how to pronounce their name.  

Next up, it’s time for fellow Leeds types T.O.Y.S. The band formed in 2010 and trade in the kind of danceable indie-pop guaranteed to put you in a substantially better mood. The band’s sound is led by the propulsive pop-power of the rhythm section while vocalist David Kitchen completes the magic formula with some distinctly funky keyboard melodies. It’s an impressively tight performance.

Jeffrey Lewis visits Leeds on a fairly regular basis and is always, without fail, ridiculously entertaining. A unique and naturally gifted songwriter as well as a first-class comic book artist. Lewis is the indie poet laureate, favoured by those more likely to be found flicking through a copy of Watchmen then a Keats anthology.

Tonight he’s playing with his current band, Los Bolts, but the show starts with a solo song about people constantly trying to get on the guest-list. My own personal guilt about this particular issue aside it’s nigh-on impossible not to smile. Lewis may be from New York City but his regular appearances in Hyde Park make him something of an honorary hometown hero.

Los Bolts and Jeff’s brother Jack join him on stage afterwards and the show begins in earnest. The set incorporates acoustic melancholia, rock ‘n’ roll, splashes of psychedelia and (of course) a couple of comic books with live narration. 

There’s another instalment in the funny and informative Complete History of Cuba series, a garage-rock number Jack wrote as a teenager called ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’ and an indie-folk rendition of Crass classic ‘Do they Owe Us a Living?’ That’s all before I mention a wonderfully noisy ‘Art Land’, the rather lovely philosophical musings of ‘Time Trades’ and a song/ comic book about cannibal monkeys. Yes. cannibal monkeys.

Before leaving us Lewis delivers an a-capella rendition of ‘What Would Pussy Riot Do?) (or ‘WWPRD’ for short). A fantastic and genuinely powerful lyric that explores the sacrifices the Russian band made for free speech and the pitfalls of corporate sponsorship in music. Years after he first emerged, this post-modern Woody Guthrie-via-Daniel Johnston troubadour still proudly embodies the indie/DIY spirit.

So the next time your favourite band lets you down or you simply need a little guidance, just think about this; “At least somewhere out in the world/There's some artists I still can look up to/They might be far between and few/It might be sad, it might be true/But at least I can ask me, and you can ask you: What would Pussy Riot do?”


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