Last week was a busy one! On Tuesday I went over to The Scala to see Frankie and The Heartstrings and Girls at an NME Awards show.
The Sunderland boys, fronted by Frankie Francis, put on a great show. Francis took a while to warm up, but once he'd settled in, he looked like all my favourite front men in one – like a foppish Kevin Rowland or Edwyn Collins, the was suited, booted and bequiffed, and strutted around the stage like he owned it...or was at least babysitting it.
They fuse indie-punk and funk with 50s-style rock n roll and won the crowd over, even before they dug out single Hunger. Their success put headliners Girls to shame. Their debut album, Album, was really exciting – full of lo-fi, 60s inspired tracks that sound like a cross between Super Furry Animals and Beach Boys. But on stage, it just didn't work. In fact, the most entertaining thing about their set was the height difference between the bassist and the rest of the band.
On Thursday I went over to see Los Campesinos! at Koko. Their third long player (they weirdly called their second, album-length record an EP) Romance Is Boring, is one of my favourite albums of the last 12 months, and seeing them play to such a big, excited crowd, was brilliant.
They've had a tough few months. When I spoke to Tom a while ago, singer Gareth had very publicly vented his anger at the album being leaked online, a full three months before it was released. He even went so far as to say he wanted to punch the person who did it. But the band on stage tonight were a million miles from the sensitive, emotional wreck their blog posts played them out to be.
They were confident and played the new songs like they'd been part of their set list for years. New members Kim (Gareth's sister, who replaced Aleks on backing vocals and keyboards) and Rob 'Sparky Deathcap' have gelled well. An exciting mix of twee indie-pop and edgy punk, a new, striking sexual frustration has led to some snippets of bittersweet lyrical brilliance.
Highlights were My Year In Lists, There Are Listed Buildings and, of course, their ultimate mission statement – You! Me! Dancing!
On Saturday I spent the day sheltering from the rain at the 100 Club. It might have been gloomy outside on Oxford Street, but inside it was a sunny Spring afternoon. It was the main event of the three day celebration of all things twee, London Popfest.
The place was head to toe in wide-eyed indie types wearing flowery polyester dresses and skinny cords, glugging cider and munching on cupcakes, the seven inch record stall was doing a roaring trade, and every time Hefner came on the PA there was a scramble for the dance floor.
Buxton trio Standard Fare won the crowd over with Steve Lamacq favourites Dancing and Fifteen and, when singer Emma Kupa was joined on vocal duty by Danny How, they proved themselves worthy of a bill that boasted some of the legends of the indie pop scene. Allo Darlin' got off to a slow start but managed to pull it back with the brilliant Polaroid Song.
Swedish band Dorotea packed a short, sharp punch with spiky, minute-long blasts of Television Personalities-esque punk.
As night fell outside Shrag played the best set of the night. They must have been feeling confident because they ignored their entire album to play a set made entirely of new material. They were fun, playful, and backing singer Helen's yelps gave them an injection of Britpop a la Kenickie or Elastica. They were a tough act for headliners Ballboy to follow. The elder statesmen of the day, they stick closer to 'the rules', twisting everyday tales into brilliantly funny tunes that raise a giggle and a wiggle.