Thursday, September 08, 2022

Bandaid Brigade Return to Redrum

US punk-pop-synth-rock-ballad-conga band Bandaid Brigade returned to the cosy venue of Redrum in Stafford to delight fans both loyal and new with a stop on their current world tour. 

The band last played at Redrum in February 2020 during a world tour in which singer and guitarist Zach Quinn claims to have caught COVID and then spread it on. Caring is sharing, as they say.

Supported by local bands Mondo Wave and Santu, the venue seemed to suit the band’s intimate yet in-your-face style, with a set that took the audience on a rollercoaster that looped through favourite video games, alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, the death of a friend and a soaring rendition of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’. If anything, the playlist served as an emotional catharsis, perhaps for the audience as much as for the band.

Singer and keyboard player Brian Wahlstrom lends a melodic backdrop to many of the songs, and this is the style you’ll hear in their most recent album release ‘Sex is Terrifying’. Flicking through their current YouTube lineup, you might compare them both musically and visually to OK Go, or perhaps an illegitimate lovechild of Green Day and The Beach Boys. Playing live, all of this changes with the thrashing guitar work of Quinn, backed up by the hard-edged drums of Paul Rucker. Don’t be lulled into thinking that Bandaid Brigade write cheerful love songs, there was plenty of material for the fans who took full advantage of the small space near the stage for some full-on moshing and pogoing, reminiscent of the great punk gigs of the 1980s. The five-man line-up was completed by Cameron Hawk on guitar and Brendan Miller on bass.

Mixing songs from the new album with earlier work, there wasn’t a break in the pace throughout the whole 90-minute set and the audience loved that. Their 2020 release ‘Travel Light’ tells an existential story of life and death and paraphrases the old saying that you can’t take it with you. There’s a hint of world-weariness in the Brigade’s songwriting, perhaps born out of some of the personal tragedies that they occasionally comment on or joke about in between songs. These glimpses into their personal traumas only served to hook the audience and draw them in further as the audience squeezed physically closer and closer to the stage throughout the night.

Two songs from the new album lifted the musical mood yet with lyrics that were no less pained. ‘Broken Toy’ tells the story of someone who, replaced as the object of affection by a partner seeking gender reassignment, feels rejected and useless. “I was your golden boy/Now I'm a broken toy … I can do all the things that she can do/Like laugh and jump and run and play/And score your drugs for you … I'm twiddling my thumbs/Til your procedures done/Expecting bad results/It feels like it's my fault

Perfect’ is a jolly, bouncy pop tune with dark and sinister undertones, perhaps hinting at the glowing facade and online posturing of certain well-known political figures. “Perfect, I can't believe I'm perfect/Making mistakes is so beneath me/You know It's always safe to retweet me”.

The night ended, not with the encore that the audience bayed for but with something that Quinn described as an odyssey. Parodying a Louisiana drawl and running through a litany of cliches from the deep south, he then selected a member of the audience to don a train driver’s cap and lead the audience through a ritual whose name echoed the song that accompanied it, ‘Butt Train’, which involved the chosen fan forming a circle with everyone else in the room and shuffling round in time to the music. 

This might be called a butt train where Bandaid Brigade is from, in the UK it’s called a conga and it was the highlight of every wedding and 18th birthday party throughout the 1970s. The train finally ran out of steam after a few laps around the room and the night’s entertainment dissolved into much cheering, clapping, and sweating.

As the audience staggered out into the warm autumn air, there was only one question in their minds. “Did we really just do the conga?”

Peter Freeth

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Here;