Pram + Women @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath – 13th February 2009


“Don’t mind us if there are things that pop and squeak and start on fire,” says Women‘s vocalist Patrick Flegal at the beginning of their set. The plaid shirt- and interesting tights- wearing crowd at the Hare & Hounds don’t seem alarmed at this warning, but I hold my drink a little closer.

This is the first gig for Women of a tour lasting until April and crossing the UK, central Europe, America and Canada, promoting their self-titled full length. They are an awkward-looking band, and they sound not unlike Pixies for hipsters, lo fi with some catchy hooks and a flavour of the Shins. Their set is brought an extra dimension by some strong work on the bass, and a generous helping of long and gloriously overworked art rock outros that stretch and buzz along the backline.


Between sets, the venue fills and there are projections of seahorses above the stage now set with shimmery fabrics and macbooks. Pram are armed with a trombone, a theremin, and various other paraphenalia I find both fascinating and confusing. I learn about seahorses.


“Ready to go?” we’re asked, and Pram slip into landscape music and astro jazz. I am not ready for this.


Let a Classicist review an instrumental set? Sure. If Alexander the Great was taking over jazz, this was the border crossing. In actual words we’re talking soundscapes fading into technicolour and there are flavours of twotone and all that late twentieth century experimental shit that littered myspace until Jeffree Star crashed into being. If you were in Berlin in the 80s, this would be your soundtrack. They are filling up empty spaces.


There is a group of guys in glasses and backpacks dancing earnestly in front of the stage in counter rhythm to the Edward Gorey scream of slide guitar, all very storm on a hillside, rain, sweeping dresses made muddy. Polite and appreciative theatre applause breaks up the set.
There is some trouble between the Hare & Hounds’ sound engineer and the band throughout the latter part of the set, with much huffing back and forth, which breaks the momentum and induces impatience from the crowd and some heckling. This is resolved, temporarily, but tempers are frayed and the rest of the set feels somewhat off. Maybe next time we’ll be ready.

Review – Jack Briggs
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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