The Brudenell Social Club tucked away in a maze of residential backstreets and my inability to read maps accurately in any way meant we arrived just as the first band, the 255s, were finishing their last song. We caught the last couple minutes of a solid yet standard pop-punk tune before they were over. Breathing a sigh of relief that we hadn't missed too much whilst driving up and down the same very long road a couple of times, we settled in to watch Offshore Radio.
Two guys and a girl with a catchy Ramones style that was, pleasingly, very heavy on the bass, and endless enthusiasm. Offshore Radio put smiles on our faces with some great songs and a steady stream of on-stage arguments, stories and shout-outs to their parents. As a result, any mistakes they made just seemed charming, with the bassist being the main culprit, failing to recognise a new song and dancing about too much to actually sing into the microphone half of the time. It didn't really matter when you saw how much fun they were having, and heard how much fun they were blasting out of the speakers. Definitely a band to look out for if you're stranded in the UK.
Next were Above Them, a post-hardcore band in the vein of Bear vs. Shark and the like, whose best attribute was the surprisingly deep and powerful voice of the lead singer. Although they were a very tight and skilled band, they got a bit repetetive, and I spent most of their set being concerned about the crowd.
See, the crowd can often make or kill a show, and this was a Sunday night in a hard-to-find club, with an American band who are far from being famous in any way. There were maybe between 40 and 60 people there and so far they had stood around, holding on to their pints and looking bored. This was not promising, and I was hoping things would pick up for Bridge and Tunnel.
My hope was futile, unfortunately. Bridge and Tunnel played an amazing set to a rather lifeless crowd, which was a massive shame. Things picked up a bit for better-known tracks, like "Wartime Souveniers," "Night Owls" and, my personal favourite, "Call to the Comptroller's Office," with the most dedicated fans who bothered to come and stand close to the stage singing enthusiastically along, but other songs, such as those off their first 7" and new-ish song "Loss Leaders," got much less of a warm reception.
The band, at least, were on good form, energetic, passionate and aggressive in equal measures despite it being their second show of the day. It was also good to hear them talk about the meanings behind some of their songs -- "Loss Leaders," for example, is about that Walmart employee who was trampled to death, and many of their songs are about the importance of community, something the band really take to heart. I just feel bad that there wasn't much community spirit in the crowd that night. A poor crowd can really bring a show down through no fault of the band or any of the hundreds of other factors that determine whether a show is awesome or not.
Ahh well, I was able to pick up a copy of their new 7" and finally talk to Pat Schramm, who thankfully doesn't get annoyed about people mentioning Latterman to him. People say you should never meet your heroes, but when you do, and they're not dicks, it's pretty good.