review archive

The Realistics Buffalo Bar, 23rd July 2002

It’s the inaugural night of the Artrocker Club, a splendid idea that I’ve already waxed lyrical about elsewhere. Collecting our membership cards on the door, we descend into the depths of the surprisingly salubrious Buffalo Bar. The bouncer reprimands the kids for sitting on the backs of the squashy sofathings and putting their converse clad feet on the seats. Quite right too, you wouldn’t do that at home would you?

There’s a bloke with alarming hair sitting quietly restringing a guitar. The hair is that kind of bouffanty sticky-uppy at the back, short blunt fringe mod haircut (there’s probably a snappier name for this hair but why would I know it?). It looks a bit mad ‘cos the bloke’s hair is really curly. Curly = not mod. It turns out curly bloke is the singer with The Realistics, and it also turns out that The Realistics are quite mod in a bit of an early ‘80s mod revival type way. When Kitten was really, really young there was this thing at school where you were asked, ‘Are you a punk, a rocker or a mod?’ (there was only the choice of three) and if you wanted to be a cool kid you had to say ‘Mod’ and you drew black and white checks and those Madness men logos on your bag and wore badges with The Beat and The Specials on, it was all a bit confused really. Plus Kitten always secretly thought it might be good to be a punk.
The Realistics are from New York but they’re rocking the British school kid circa 1981 look in a casual kind of way. Hmm.
bouffanty
Taking to the stage/step the singer says, ‘We’re going to make this short and painful’ and they launch into some ace ramshackle beaty tunes. They’re energetic and enthusiastic, the Keith Moony drummer keeps whacking his cymbal off its stand, so members of the audience take it in turns to re-balance it. At one point he loses his sticks so continues furiously pummelling the kit with his hands. The singer jumps off and on the stage/step and rolls on the floor. These here are catchy tunes that make you shake your thang to their dumb hooky grooves, the sort of songs you get popping up in your head a few days later, ‘It’s Alright, It’s OK’ being a particular culprit. Big joyful chords hammered out on the organ add a serious Elvis Costello and the Attractions feel to the sound. Mind you this is more apparent on record than at this precise moment of sweaty mayhem as the speakers sway alarmingly, threatening to topple.
ramshackle beaty tunes
The singer takes off his guitar and frolics about for the ace organ and bass groove of ‘Angie’. There’s a part of me that’s thinking, ‘Hmm New York also-rans, bandwagon-jumping blah blah’, but that’s probably some nasty bitter NME hack demon that’s trying to do mind control things in my head. Sure enough, a couple of weeks later a sourfaced review appears in NME. Who cares about scenes and cliches and what’s ‘cool’ (punk, rocker or mod?) when you’re having this much fun, making this much noise in a packed basement?
I want to dance

So a week later I go to the Dublin Castle for more Realistics action, the sound is better, the approach is less chaotic, but the songs, ‘Go Ahead’, ‘Stranded In Stereo’, ‘Tiny Avalanches’ still grab me by the ankles. People dance about happily, there are no furrowed brows or hand-wringing over whether we should ‘allow’ any more noisy New York kidz to come over here and rock our socks (apart from NME slumped scowling in the corner). And the bass player gives me his last badge. The tunes are great, I want to dance. That’s all.

[top of page]