Cheerleader/Corrigan (Water Rats, London)

I’d never heard of any of the bands playing at the Water Rats on Thursday night, but decided that for £4 and a jaunt just around the corner, I’d take the risk and believe Time Out, where Cheerleader were described as “Buzzcocks and Pixies-styled noise” and Corrigan as “zinging post-punk and cinematic post-rock…variously recalls Magazine, Slint, Joy Division and Shellac.”

Cheerleader put on a show that deserved a much bigger audience than the 20 or so people watching it. Good songs that were catchy but not samey, occasional Frank Black-esque screaming from the guy, strong charismatic lead vocals, and both vocalists sounded great together; in general a solidly competent performance head and shoulders above some of the crap I have found myself watching in disbelief in the past (Mull Historical Society, this means you).

Corrigan was…intriguing. I’ve never seen a band that seemed so disconnected from its lead singer. The rest of the band looked the indie-rock part, shaved heads, spiked hair, cool faded T-shirts etc. As for the lead singer, I have difficulty describing what he was like without being probably rather offensive, but if you’ve ever watched Will And Grace, picture Jack in an rock band.

None of the band ever seemed to look at each other, and completely ignored the antics of the lead singer and his attempts to commune with them. I didn’t quite see the influences of Slint or Joy Division that Time Out saw, but must admit ignorance with regard to Magazine and Shellac, who are still on my long list of Canonical Bands I Should Probably Get Around To Listening To At Some Point For The Sake Of My Own Indie Cred. All the same, the band played cohesively if non-interactively, and I mostly liked what I heard. My problem was that I didn’t think the lead singer’s vocals (kind of like Billy Corgan but without the edge) went with the band’s type of sound, which, come to think of it, would have worked well with an Ian Curtis type of voice (so maybe Time Out was right to use “post-punk” after all).

So I think what I’m left with for this band is that I won’t personally be keen on them unless they change their lead singer, but they do deserve to go on to bigger things. (If you think about it, I’m sure a lot of people watching the Smashing Pumpkins starting out could have said exactly the same thing.)

Four quid well spent.