Somehow I have managed to see The Cribs four times this year, which ties them with The Dears as Band Seen Most Times by Me in 2005. Initially, this by accident — they would be on the bill with another band I wanted to see or something. But after the second Cribs show I saw — Tribeca Rock Club during CMJ — it became apparent that I really liked these three brothers from Wakefield, West Yorkshire… especially live.
There is also something about rooting for the underdog. The Cribs get no respect, usually dismissed as mere Strokes soundalikes. You can definitely hear a similarity, but The Cribs are much more poppy, with shout-a-long choruses and liberal uses of "whoa-oh"s (see their singles "Mirror Kisses" and "Martell," both from their latest album, The New Fellas). And these days when every band from the UK sells out shows in NYC, chances are you can just walk into a Cribs gig. I recommend you do just that.
Nobody tries harder onstage than The Cribs, and you can count at least three of these four things happening at a gig:
- Guitarist/singer Ryan Jarman will burst his lip on his microphone.
- Drummer and younger brother Ross will climb on the kit while still playing.
- The show will end with "Wrong Way to Be," which will devolve into noise wankery, including Ryan chugging an entire beer while still "playing" and much rubbing of guitars and basses on the amps.
- Guitarist/singer Ryan Jarman will wear one of two shirts: probably this one, but occasionally this one.
They are on the shambolic side live, and have trouble keeping the tempo steady sometimes, but it’s never a dull show. You gotta love ’em. And is it just me or does Ryan look a lot like the kid who played the bully on Freaks & Geeks? (photo is actually from a movie he did prior to F&Gs, Huck and The King of Hearts.)
Anyway, I saw them twice this weekend. First at the Fixed party at Tribeca Grand. It’s a bit strange going to see a band in such a posh place, with grimy hipsters intermingling with all the film industry and Sex & the City types that tend to stay at the hotel, but that’s part of the fun. What was no fun was the bad, overly loud sound that sometimes obscured what song was being played ("Hey Scenesters!" was a muddy mess). Eight dollar beers is also no fun. But it was still a good show, and the DJs beforehand were doing a good job (I was especially glad to hear The Long Blondes‘ "Giddy Stratospheres"). I was also entertained by watching The Cobrasnake‘s blunt, random style of photography — as well as his ridiculous personal style. As for the band, no beer chugging, and Ryan wore Shirt #2… it’s first appearance at a show I’d seen.
Monday’s show at Mercury Lounge was much better, with a return of Shirt #1. I joked with my friends Erinn and Dorrit that they should buy Ryan a new shirt and give it to him at the show, but they weren’t having it. Again, not sold out, but probably the biggest crowd I’d seen the band play to who seemed to actually be there for the Cribs, not some other band on the bill. They’d played Spin Live earlier in the day and Ross had apparently fallen off his kit and banged his head pretty good, but it didn’t stop him from climbing on his drums anyway. Ten songs, 35 minutes, all the hits, plus their new non-LP single "You’re Gonna Lose Us." My favorite was probably "Martell" or "You Were Always the One" from their first album. Beer was chugged whilst playing but not finished (in fairness it was a Bass I think, and you really need a watery domestic beer for that. Oh wow, is that where Pavement’s EP title came from? Never thought of that.) The crowd sang along often. I’m sure they will be back soon. Please go see them next time, won’t you?
• Underrated Magazine’s blog reviews the Mercury Lounge show and complains about too many photographs being taken, despite taking pictures herself.