[sic] Magazine

Wichita ’10th’ Party

It’s always a good idea to celebrate Indie labels and Wichita has had more to celebrate than most over its 10 years. Acts such as Bloc Party , Simian Mobile Disco , Conor Oberst & the whistling money kettle of Peter, Bjorn and John have made it a success and it seems to have its eye firmly on the ball with current great hopes Frankie & The Heartstrings and Yank finds Best Coast (although having just read an NME Radar bit on BC – with no label mentioned – I’m surprised to see them on the label slide show at the venue. It is, as ever, who you know.). The celebration is spread across 4 nights and I gain access to night 4 thanks to the generosity of a friend. The night promises much, with the tried and tested Los Campesinos! headlining and “buzz as fuck” Frankie & The Heartstrings and “meant to see them for the last 2 years as fuck” Johnny Foreigner . The night does not disappoint.

Johnny Foreigner are a classic Indie Band – two boy, one girl – bit of melody, bit of shrill, bit of wonk. They have just brought out a 10” single funded by the brilliantly simple idea of offering pre-purchasers the guarantee of their name on the cover art. You can look me up, I’m on twice as real name and blogging moniker. Anyhoo… JF are the sort of band that are, immediately, easy to like if you like the DIY approach. But despite the “let’s do the show right here” ethos there is now a degree of polish in the instrument swapping and chimes and Alexei’s “hammer on” guitar technique is positively rockin’ (see Eddie Van Halen ). This band are a testament to their own hard work – they’ve toured their arses off and it’s built a following that are singing along tonight, and given them enough chops to work a stage this big.

Frankie & The Heartstrings , the must see buzz of the evening are – pleasingly – just that. From the off Jamie from the Audio Anti-Hero label (my benefactor for the evening) and myself are exchanging glances of the “fuck me, they’re good” variety and it won’t be long till our shopping baskets are bulging with Frankie vinyl. Best of all they are not the born fully formed unit of, say, Kaiser Chiefs infamy and are raising their game as the set goes on.

The first couple of songs are charming Indie Pop. With the addition of horns on song three (an itinerant horn section play with each band tonight) they become a Soul Review and as such are smokin’ – emotional fops like a Dexys fronted by ABC’s Martin Fry . The last couple of tracks have a more synthetic feel – but with the torch of emotion burning through. Honestly this band could go several ways in the future, it feels like watching evolution in real time to see them through a set!

It is by now too hot for a man of my years to remain in the throng so I view Los Campesinos! From a more reserved position – which is rather appropriate to my feelings for them. They made the most amazing splash on MySpace and their 4 track calling card were the last exceptional free downloads we had before MySpace decided to fuck with the format and stop the function. I’ve seen them twice – once before the first album, once before the second. They didn’t seem to have anything to match the 4 tracks first time and although they had matured into a darker beast the second time and Gareth into a compelling and very odd frontman they still didn’t. And now although the set is fine throughout the only tracks that stick in my head are those (though clearly Gareth is sick of them). It’s not I don’t like them, just on paper I should love or hate them.

For more from Indie Dad please visit i blame the parents records