It felt like 2005, kind of. Art Brut had just taken the stage at Mercury, and in the crowd were bloggers Heart on a Stick and Yeti Don't Dance.* Yet something was slightly different. Eddie Argos' questionable moustache now seemed to be on the face of drummer Mikey B and his stage banter familiar but skewed. Was this some sort alternate reality cause by a rip in the time/space continuium (or JJ Abrams)? No, it was the start of Art Brut Week, a five night onslaught at Mercury Lounge, and the first time the band had played that venue since their first vist to America three and a half years ago. Surviving the Similar But Slicker And Not As Good Second Album, and now back with The Much Better But Yet Still Not That Different Third Album, Art Brut were back to remind us why we loved them in the first place: they are an exuberant good time as a live band.
I like Argos best when he's in Jonathan Richman mode, wide eyed and excited by the world: modern art, new girlfriends, summer jobs, amazing hangovers, mysterious bruises DC comics, chocolate milkshakes. And this was the Argos we got Monday, though a slightly, slightly subdued one thanks to recovering back problems. (Less bouncing, but he still goes into the crowd.) The new songs sounded great, better than on record.** And we were treated to first album favorites like "Modern Art," "Good Weekend," "My Little Brother," and "Emily Kane" albeit with updated lyrics as you might expect from Argos. And while I do wish "The Replacements" and their anthem "Formed a Band" had been part of the set, there's always tonight, tomorrow, Thursday and Friday for that.***
SETLIST: Alcoholics Unanimous | Direct Hit | Modern Art | Summer Job | Rusted Gun of Milan | What a Rush | Emily Kane | Demons Out | DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake | Pump Up the Volume | Good Weekend | Positively 5th Street | My Little Brother | Nag Nag Nag Nag | ENCORE: Bang Bang Rock N' Roll | 18,000 Lira | Mysterious Bruises
Brooklyn Vegan has some good pictures.
*That first Art Brut show at Mercury Lounge had one of the highest concentration of then-NYC music bloggers ever, many of whom don't post anymore.
**Has there been a band that would be more suited to Steve Albini's mostly live recording process than Art Brut? Why haven't they done this yet? I suppose getting Frank Black for Art Brut Vs. Satan was probably the same idea/next best thing, whichever came first.
***Not that I'm going again this week, which is all sold out. If you still want to go, but didn't plan ahead, you'd do well to check Ticketmaster occasionally as tickets will probably be released for each show on the day of.