BodegaGet It Loud In Libraries @ Birkenhead Library 8/7/18
Sardonic is one of those words that’s seemingly on the decrease. There’s very little ‘sardony’ in music these days, with cerebral wit becoming much more at ease with the day-to-day advances in social meeja and vocabulary transition. Hurrah, then, for New York post-punkas BODEGA, whose sardonic world-weariness is set to a semi-Kraut and pop-fuelled, post-everything noise. The realisation of this occurs a third of the way through their bizarre gig in a listed building just south of Birkenhead Central. OK, a library; an old, old library that has more relevance to sepia-tinted childhood memories than watching three girls and two boys leap around as though they were headlining Radio City Music Hall.
For some utterly brilliant reason (and much more than a soupçon of hard work) the Get It Loud In Libraries network has decided to place a very cool band in a very uncool space on the Wirral. The dichotomy of the loud and socially wry Bodega wrapped in the peaceful and learned confines of Birkenhead Library on a sticky summer Sunday afternoon is not lost on this busy and expectant all-ages crowd.
Bodega are touring their debut album Endless Scroll, but rather than this being a snatched at experience to play for anyone at any time, this performance is seemingly at ease with what the band stand for. “A gig in a library? Sure. Just so long as we change NOTHING.”
And they don’t shift their performance a bit for a crowd clearly baffled by the venue, but clearly moved by the five-piece’s attempt at hamming it up in the children’s section.
Musically, Bodega suffer from the Parquet Courts comparison (understandable as PC’s Austin Brown recorded and produced the record), but there is a deeper veneer that reveals itself live; The B-52’s, Pink Military, Devo and Le Tigre all snuggling into a Duggee hug with Talking Heads. The blatancy of this is offset with a depth of lyrical thought that makes up for the perceived lack of musical integrity. Songs about dating apps, female masturbation and varying degrees of social boredom (with the pressures of modern life contained therein) are note perfect. A stand-up drummer is heaving with the cool of Moe Tucker and a duet girl/boy vocal has the potential to fall, but at no point, in the 45-minute set, does it. From an intro where Ben Hozie shouts poetically from the book Punk – The Whole Story that he finds on the bulging shelves in front of him, to the sorrow-laden Charlie, about the loss of a friend, to the extended, almost shoegaze buzzfest of Truth Is Not Punishment, Bodega swept all before them and are in the process of creating a new legacy for bands from New York. There’s been a gap, you see, and as we grapple in an asphyxiating post-Trump era, here’s a voice you’ll recognise. Smothered in truth. And books.