Kicking off The Bodega’s 20th anniversary celebrations in style, The Orielles ensure this is a party no one will want to leave early from.
Ascending the hallowed stairs of The Bodega, it becomes immediately clear that a lively atmosphere has already begun to be curated in honour of the great venue’s birthday celebrations. A favourite of both bands and audiences alike, the 220 capacity venue has acted as a platform for all sorts of emerging talent across the last two decades, becoming a thriving hub for not only Nottingham’s music scene but the city itself. To show tribute to this, three special anniversary gigs were commissioned, starting off with Halifax heroes The Orielles. With the number 20 displayed by party balloons above the merch stand and a sold-out crowd gradually filling every empty space going, the scene is set for a perfect night of entertainment.
Taking to the stage first, Yorkshire quartet Working Men’s Club arrive with angular guitar riffs, post-punk rhythms and plenty of danceable beats, as their still relatively new line-up is showcased to the crowd. Beginning their set with a hat-trick of back-to-back crowd-pleasers, their sound is encapsulated best by debut single Bad Blood, its pulsating, driving backbone grabbing onlookers by the scruff of the neck and demanding they pay attention. In less capable hands a line such as “Be happy when the sun shines” could also come across as hippy fodder, but when spat out by frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant it appears almost as a threat, his menacing eyes darting across the crowd like he’s searching to pick a fight with anyone who refuses to agree with his call to arms. It is not long before he actually enters the audience himself, peacocking across the frontline before investigating deeper territory, mic firmly clutched in hand. A frontman moulded on the greats, his energy is infectious, and with a silver chain his only item of clothing from the waist up, creates an iconic image that you can’t help but feel will turn up one day in a late night BBC4 documentary looking back at the greats. It’s not just a one man show though and whilst Sydney shifts between traditional frontman instruments (guitar, tambourine, cow bell), the rest of the band provide the perfect sturdy accompaniment to his extravagant stage presence. Not sticking to one instrument either, it seems a secret rule in the band is that you can’t play the prologue synthesiser unless you wear sunglasses, with Mairead O’Connor and Rob Graham (from the Moonlandingz and Drenge respectively) both donning the accessory before having a turn. The set concludes with a more psychedelic approach, and whilst not quite as thrilling as their initial surge of post-punk intensity, still shows why Working Men’s Club are being consistently tipped as ‘ones to watch’, there clearly being many layers of the band still yet to be explored.
"The addition of Alex Stephens on keys last year has also added a new depth to the band’s sound and now finds Henry’s cutting guitar riffs peppered with arpeggiated chords and noises straight from Talking Heads."
After a short interlude giving audience members the chance to top up their drinks, The Orielles brought their unique mix of post-punk and disco to the stage, delivering a gig of fun, danceable and intelligent music that had the youthful energy of a post-exam summer. Henry, the guitarist, started by announcing that it too was his twentieth birthday (like Bodega) not too long ago, and pondered whether the venue shares his concerns about ever being able to save up enough to pay a deposit on a house, before quickly reassuring everyone that we were all here to help Bodega not worry about any of that. The Orielles haven’t played many gigs in recent months, but were tight as always, kicking off their set with new single Come Down On Jupiter. Packed with time changes and glistening harmonies, the song warmed the crowd up for some sneak peeks from the new album Disco Voladar arriving in February. The new songs they previewed echoed the sound of Stereolab’s Dots and Loops (an influence the band clearly wear on their sleeve; Sidonie donning one of the bands t-shirts for the gig) with Esme’s vocals hanging over the intricate instrumentals and steady groove, whilst Sidone’s drumming showed the sticks are in safe hands, holding together the mix of influences with funky beats. The addition of Alex Stephens on keys last year has also added a new depth to the band’s sound and now finds Henry’s cutting guitar riffs peppered with arpeggiated chords and noises straight from Talking Heads.
"The show entirely lived up to what you would expect from a gig at The Bodega."
Interspersing new tracks with fan favourites such as Let Your Dogtooth Grow, the band hit their stride with Bobbi’s Second World, a song about a cat’s journey to become a lady, in which to do so she must experience the realities of the front and back garden. The quirky lyrics matching the otherworldliness of the music, Henry proceeded to bounce about the stage with a whistle and cowbell, injecting the audience with a burst of energy that reverberated across the floor. As he announced there was only one song left, a strange mixture of sadness and excitement built, as Orielles regulars knew what was still to come in the form of classic set-closer Sugar Tastes Like Salt - a perfect way to finish the night. Like the rebellious lovechild of ESG and Gang of Four, the steady build of the guitar teased the audience for one last groove as the infectiously catchy riff from Bobbi’s Second World returned again for a welcome reprise. The prolonged outro then gave the crowd its final chance to dance, before cutting off in a cloud of feedback, leaving a truly satisfied audience in its wake.
The show entirely lived up to what you would expect from a gig at The Bodega. Working Men’s Club proved that it’s always worth coming early to see support acts, otherwise you might miss out on Sydney Minsky-Sargeant’s deathly stare and chilling vocals. The Orielles built up hope that their next album will be as good, hopefully even better, than their last. And for those who stayed behind in the bar downstairs after curfew, ‘The Original Socialist DJs’ (aka Martin Nesbitt & Heavenly Recordings founder and all-round legend Jeff Barrett) continued the party late into the night, spinning the decks with a selection of some of the finest tunes. At 20, The Bodega still seems to be in great health and is more than ready to take on its next decade!
Dominic Allum & Luke Mcwatters