Why are The Cribs so awesome? I think the key is filial. There is a bond between the Brothers Jarman that gives them their goofy charm — a camaraderie you can only get from knowing someone your entire life. You can sense it at their shows. Of course, they’re songs are good too, punctuated by "whoa-oh"s and shout-along choruses.
They are also of-the-people. I can’t help but think of that Lester Bangs quote about Jim Morrison. "He’s a drunken buffoon posing as a poet. Give me the Guess Who. They’ve got the courage to be drunken buffoons, which makes them poetic." (That’s the Almost Famous version, at least.) I would not call the Cribs buffoons, but they are often drunken and do silly things onstage. Drummer Ross plays while standing on his stool. Ryan chugs a beer while "playing" and often bursts his lip open from banging it against the mike. There is no pretense with The Cribs.
I have seen The Cribs loads of times, usually to half-empty rooms. But last night. Wakefield’s finest packed the room with rowdy fans (many of them screaming girls) who sang along to nearly every song. Their fanbase may be smaller than some, but it is more dedicated. (Keeping a low profile in among the crowd was Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever‘s producer, Alex Kapranos.) No smashed lip or beer chugging this time. Maybe tonight?
We got six new ones, all the hits from The New Fellas, a couple from the first album (but no "You Were Always the One" and b-side "You’re Gonna Lose Us" which contains what may be the Cribs defining statement: "When I’m drunk I can be an asshole / That don’t mean I don’t got no class, though."
The new songs all sounded great, all potential singles if you ask me, especially "I’m a Realist." The crowd, the first seven rows or so, were going mental, especially for the New Fellas numbers. I will admit to loudly "whoa oh oh"ing along with "Martel," my favorite. I think the Cribs have finally arrived. Setlist (new songs are *asterisked):
Our Bovine Public*
You’re Gonna Lose Us [MP3]
I’m a Realist*
Girls Like Mystery*
I’m Alright, Me
We Can No Longer Cheat You
Wrong Way to Be
They also have one of the best t-shirts I’ve seen in a long time, a
funny homage to their hometown but given the beach souvenir treatment. Also in attendance: Spin, I Rock I Roll and Fiddle While You Burn, whose photo of White Rabbits I swiped (Flickr). This was also the first 18+ show I’ve ever seen at Mercury Lounge. Was this a first?
I should also say that the whole bill tonight was great. Opening band Jealous Girlfriends had the room filled from the beginning. I am always a fan of male-female vocals (be it Fleetwood Mac, X or Viva Voce) and guitarists Josh Abbott and Holly Miranda sounded great together. Their no-nonsense style and good songwriting were all they needed to keep your interest. Apart from bass being played on a keyboard much of the time, the Jealous Girlfriends are about as straightforward as indie rock gets these days. Who needs a gimmick?
White Rabbits, meanwhile, continue to impress me. I’ve seen them about five times now and are among my favorite local bands. The room was packed for them too, and they certainly put on a good show. Two drummers, sometimes three, stylishly natty suits, charisma oozing from their pores along with loads of sweat. (That’s what you get for wearing a sweater onstage in this weather.) I’ve been hearing comparisons to the National, but apart from similar vocal styles and a general swaggering way about them, they sound nothing like each other. There sound is more New Orleans with hints of island flavorings. I wish their debut, Fort Nightly, captured more of the magic that happens onstage. Maybe I just need to listen to it louder.
I continue to be disappointed with my new camera’s ability to shoot flashless in dark clubs, but I fooled around with the video setting and the results turned out really good: