TVD Live: Art Brut and Reptar at Black Cat, 6/22

Reptar, from Athens, GA are the product of tons of hype. They’re pretty new to playing live shows and this was apparent as I entered the Black Cat a few songs into their set. They had already worked up a small section of gleeful dancers. The mood was energetic, and the bongos were like pop rocks bouncing off the tip of your tongue, obnoxiously loud with a tangy bite. Yes, bongos.

These kids have listened to My Life in the Bush of Ghosts one too many times. The world music influence woven throughout their set annoys me, it’s not my thing, but it keeps their sound lively and interesting. Their self-described sexpopelecto label is not entirely accurate. I can see how they think this is the case with William Kennedy’s towering three synths, but I’d say they are more Talking Heads meets Paul Simon, or as my friend Grande described them “the lite beer equivalent of Paul Simon.”

There’s no getting around the dancing though. Reptar are energetic and charismatic live, although I might call Graham’s vocals “experimental.” I think these guys are getting a ton of hype because they are fun and charismatic musicians. They also busted into some interesting noisy Sonic Youth-inspired jam outs that made me cock my head a little.

Art Brut, why oh why was this my first time seeing you? What kind of a moron have I been all this time? What a fantastic show; you performed brilliantly, exceeded all expectations. Here’s why: Eddie Argos is a maniac. He’s funny, engaging, witty, and a total wild card, my kind of guy, really. Now, I’m not a huge fan of Brilliant! Tragic! I like it, but I’m not blown away and as my dear friend Fritz put it, “I’m not going home humming any of the songs off it.” But live, each song stands on it’s own and is equally as powerful as all the classics such as “Emily Jane” or “Formed a Band.”

They opened with “Clever Clever Jazz” to a maybe three-quarter full room, not surprising on an early Wednesday show. After My Little Brother,” Eddie instantly snarked about it. “Oh, yeah fire regulations. It’s actually totally sold out, there were kids fighting to get in outside.” Thus begins the comedy.

Eddie is a perfect frontman, keeping the audience smiling, engaged, taking requests throughout the set. “Axl Rose” is next and is really fun live. Art Brut have done a great job of peppering in the new songs with the old, keeping the energy up and being completely punk rock. I think it was about this time I looked over to notice just how classically punk Freddy is. She plays her bass with the power stance reminiscent of a guitar hero avatar—iconic. Eddie wasn’t the only captivating member of the band; Ian Catskilkin constantly toyed with the audience and seemed to have a constant rapport with one guy as a bunch of finger pointing was exchanged between the two of them.

And then “Modern Art” has everyone pogoing. Eddie felt this energy and jumped into the audience as the music slowed. He starts ranting about a his favorite artist Van Gogh and is running around in the audience telling the story of how he just wanted to touch the painting. He described the rush of excitement that runs through him, when he realized it was the security guard rushing him out. He told us how he was shoved into an elevator and sit started to go down, and as he’s describing this, he gets lower and lower to the ground, and people follow him. Before you know it, half the Black Cat audience is on its knees with him. He says, “What’s the matter, too cool to get down?” and then the rest of the audience joined (including me, following my jaw). EVERYONE IN THE AUDIENCE IS LITERALLY ON THEIR KNEES. And he says, “Well, I think I may have improvised myself into a corner here,” and we all crack up.

He gets the energy going, and it builds a little bit louder now, and we’re all standing again, and then and once again, we’re all pogoing like we’re wearing moon shoes, and we’re jumping around furiously with our beers spilling and our smiles pouring off our faces. AMAZING moment.

After a few more songs they leave and of course we’re not done with them yet. Most of the band minus Eddie return on stage to play the “Paradise City” intro, and once Eddie is back they launch into “Formed a Band,” Unprofessional Wrestling and another that I can’t remember. Basically, I’m pissed at myself for not seeing Art Brut on tour for any of their previous albums, but even if you’re not a fan of this one, they are always and forever will be, worth seeing live again and again.

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