Live Review: Bombay Bicycle Club with Lucy Rose and the Darcys, 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 7th March 2012

By on Monday, 12th March 2012 at 2:00 pm

I’m not sure how the rest of 2012 will go, but so far this year I’ve already seen two bands making their Washington debuts. First was Slow Club at DC9 in February. And last Wednesday, it was Bombay Bicycle Club’s turn to make the rounds at 9:30 Club (I don’t count their appearance early in the day on the main stage at September 2011’s Virgin Free Fest at Merriweather Post Pavilion – yes, *that* Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective…) The show was sold out and while I had been warned I’d be surrounded by kids, all in all I was impressed by the local enthusiasm for the Londoners. The night hadn’t started out so well; for one, singer Jack Steadman had left the venue and gone for a walk, only to return and not be recognised by 9:30 staff. Fail.

For sure, it was going to be a very special evening, as Bombay Bicycle Club had brought Lucy Rose, aka the woman who had guested on vocals on both 2010’s ‘Flaws’ and 2011’s ‘A Different Kind of Fix’, along with them on this North American campaign. The question mark was Toronto band the Darcys. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, but surprisingly, it did. Lucy was first; she came onstage looking very chill in jeans with a rip at the knee, a black jumper and a simple gold chain around her neck. The song ‘Night Bus’ appropriately brought a bit of London to Washington, and the punters assisted with ‘Refect’ (???) shortly after soon as she told us, “this song sounds bigger in my head than I can play it, so I’m going to need your help. (from **7-track EP). When she explained she and Bombay stopped by local rock radio station DC101 and didn’t make it to the White House, she made everyone laugh when she asked if it was worth seeing. The resounding answer, predictably, was no. The only evidence of nerves: she didn’t introduce herself until the end,before finishing with ‘Middle of the Bed’. Even though she was extremely soft spoken, she had plenty of (male) admirers, with lots of “I love you, Lucy!” being shouted out.

It was a bit of a shock to switch gears to the Darcys. Except for their clean-shaven lead guitarist, they could have been mistaken for Kings of Leon who’d been hiding out in a cave and this was their first surfacing and chance to rock out to every emotion. And whoever wrote their Wikipedia entry made a mistake, I think; they’re listed as being of the art rock genre, and when I think of art rock, I think of Roxy Music and Art Brut. No, these Canadians can be loud and can shred on command, yet in perfect harmony. I usually shun “jam bands” but I actually welcomed the drawn out outros of their songs. Wow. I was very pleasantly surprised as they sometimes sounded like psych rock but mostly just rock that’s balls to the wall, but held back enough to just skirt the boundary of chaos. Controlled, yet highly enjoyable chaos.

Amusedly, young girls in front of me with their bouncing hair chanted “BBC! BBC!” (how strange this sounded!), as strange disco and earlier dance music played on the PA in the intervening time between acts. Having had not witnessed Beatlemania firsthand, I can only guess that the reaction to Bombay taking the stage probably approximated the craziness. Good lord. I made the mistake of not putting in my right ear’s earplug until after the first couple gently guitar notes of ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’ and I think I almost lost my eardrum. The screaming was that loud. As I predicted, Lucy Rose returned to duet with Jack Steadman on ‘Leave It’ and one of my personal favourites, ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’. One song was arranged to allow the spotlight to be squarely on drummer Suren de Saram; everyone else on stage brought over various decidedly not usual percussion instruments (recycling bin, anyone?) for him to beat on in turn. Fantastic. Guitarist Jamie **last name dedicated a song from ‘Flaws’, played semi-acoustically on this night, to his grandmother who’s from Washington. Who knew?

Not sure if this is a regular part of a Bombay show, but it confirmed the craziness was not confined to the audience only. And what did the crowd do? Screamed their heads off. Generally I do not see boys at DC shows dancing, but fans of both sexes were cutting a rug to Bombay Bicycle Club’s’ patented brand of off kilter indie rock when they returned with an encore of ‘Shuffle’ and ‘What You Want’. We learned from Steadman that this was the largest show they’d played in America yet and that he thought we “were fucking amazing”. I thought the two young girls in front of me were going to faint from the excitement, half of the time yelling and attempting to grab at the band, the other half of the time looking like they were going to die because Jack Steadman was standing so close to them. I have to be honest, I’ve never been a massive fan of Bombay Bicycle Club (I liked their first album ‘I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose’ the best) and while I was aware they have a devoted following at home, I had no idea that Bombaymania existed in America. Need evidence? A girls’ bra, scrawled presumably with her name and mobile number, was thrown onstage and shortly after Steadman and MacColl shared a grin as if they could say to each other, “they love us. They really love us!” Bless. Could they follow in the footsteps of their 2011 North American tourmates Two Door Cinema Club? Quite possibly.

After the cut: Bombay Bicycle’s set list in DC.

Bombay Bicycle Club Set List:
How Do You Swallow So Much Sleep
Your Eyes
Bad Timing
Open House
Dust on the Ground
Leave It
Take the Right One
Lights Out, Words Gone
Rinse Me Down
Ivy and Gold
Cancel on Me
Always Like This
What You Want
What If

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3 Responses

6:57 pm
13th March 2012

Bombay Bicycle Club are generically known as BBC, look both here
Jamie is Jamie Maccoll and has a musical heritage second to none, his Mum was a Mercury nominee, his aunt was Kirstie Maccoll and his dad and grandad are folk legends including penning the song ‘Dirty Old town’.
And it was Ivy And Gold where Suren had his solo, you can see it here

4:56 am
21st March 2012

Of course, I’m sure people call them “BBC” in passing, I just found it funny that Americans were shouting this and not getting that it sounded odd!

As for Jamie’s family, that’s not what I was getting at – I meant it was unusual to learn that his grandmother was from Washington DC – not really something you’re likely to hear here.

2:25 am
29th March 2012

my comment was that Bombay bicycle club refer to themselves as BBC. and my comment about Jamie was due to this ‘Guitarist Jamie **last name ‘ in your article where you did not seem to know Jamie’s last name.

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