Kasabian and The Koreans at Kill All Hippies
Now, I hate hippies as much as the next man, but to want them purged from the earth is a pretty extreme way of dealing with what is only a mild annoyance (more annoying than, say, Goths, but less annoying than Skatepunks). The irony is that the Kill All Hippies night shares some hippy values, including a free door (so long as you sign up to online guestlist) and a good-natured atmosphere redolent with cannabis. Despite being in “fashionable Shoreditch”, the crowd was varied, with geeks and oldsters chattering happily whilst the DJ (whose T-shirt read “Fuck Art Let’s Rock”) played mash-ups and remixes of such artists as Wire, White Stripes and (cripes!!!) OMD.
An odd group of blokes to look at (their bassist was as tense as iron), The Koreans play the type of uncomplicated rock that had bands like Pusherman laughed out of town seven years ago. Unlike the Britrock masses, however, The Koreans do have some pretty melodies and catchy choruses. Their first single, Machine Code, with its verite depiction of life in South London (“catch the five-nine down Brixton Hill”) is typical: mediocre rock augmented by some psyched-out theremin action. My toes were set tapping, my head may have nodded, but I was left fundamentally unmoved.
Kasabian hail from Leicester, the home of Showaddywaddy, Crazyhead and Perfume. And if that doesn’t put you off then wait till you see what they look like. Handlebar moustaches and seventies haircuts (they resemble the fictional band Stillwater from Almost Famous), sit uneasily on faces too young to wear them. If this is a gimmick encouraged by their major record label, then it works: it provokes interest. If it isn’t a gimmick, they are in trouble.
The music scene in Leicester was moribund the last time I looked; full of chancers, followers, and insular cliques. It is too provincial to be fashionable and too urban to avoid being hindered by mainstream influences. The fact that Kasabian play music amounting to nu-baggy should not be taken as a bold move away from the norm, rather that in Leicester baggy still lingers as a workable option. Their song on the NME compilation sounded like a steal from Radiohead’s ‘Just’ combined with a mild dose of recent Primal Scream, but overall they sound like the Happy Mondays without the insanity.
Commercially, such a proposition is dubious in the extreme, but you never know: they are young, alive and brimming with confidence. As with the Koreans, they are danceable and have an irresistible rhythm section, but there is no magic.