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Vermont / The Bobby McGees 11th April 2003 The Spitz

So it turns out that the Bobby McGees aren’t Mr Gillespie and yer Creation/Poptones headhoncho teaming up for an impromptu set of unplugged Biff Bang Pow/Sonic Flower Groove faves. Shame. Instead we get a Scottish duo ‘charmingly’ (ie. wonkily) strumming and er, glockenspieling their way through a selection of cute, amusing ditties, including a mightily odd Velvet Underground cover (so odd I can’t even remember which one it was now) and (snigger) ‘Rory Rides Me Raw’ (it was about a bicycle, okay?) by The Vaselines. This is what ‘anti-folk’ is apparently.

Anyway, we’re all here (and the place is packed) for the launch of ‘Ins Kino’ the debut lp by indie-oddity popsters Vermont. A bit of background here, when you go out dancing your little socks off at Track & Field and Strange Fruit nights you inevitably see a smattering of the same faces time and again. And you put names to these faces. And if you don’t know the real names you invent them. So, we’ve grown used to seeing the man we affectionately know as ‘Shaky’, named after his fine quiff and um, fifties-influenced dance style. Cool. We get excited whenever we spot Shaky at events. He is an icon. Last year I got Vermont’s ace ‘The Kinetic’ EP. Spurred on by this fantastic piece of plastic, we went to see Vermont. Lo! Shaky is their singer/guitarist!! Hurrah! We are thrilled. We love Shaky and now our love for Vermont is sealed.
our love for Vermont is sealed

So, back to tonight. Shaky has grown his quiff out. And his real name is Colin. Oh well, Vermont are still ace. They fling out a pick ‘n’ mix selection of curious, skew-whiff popsongs riddled with insane piano-hammering, guitar skronking and Sha…er Colin’s growly singing versus girlie-singer Sabine’s sugar-dusted vocals.

Things are kicked off in fine stomping style with ‘Bullfight In Bogna’, all frantic strumming and frentic cha-cha-cha rhythms. ‘Chaos For Beginners’ (ace title, cheers) dronerocks along its merry way, Sabine breathing sweetness over the top, the rest of the band adding odd squawks, squonks, fuzzes and buzzes. There’s the chirpy, skippy piano-led singsong of ‘Poppiloten’. Then there’s the relatively straight-forward sweetheart indiepop of ‘Drive’ where Sabine’s voice gets to shimmer and sparkle. It’s not easy to pin-down Vermont’s sound, one moment they’re playing soft and simple jangley pop, the next they’ve gone mental throwing in all manner of demented sounds as keyboard man Adey fills in spare moments with some enthusiastic elbows-aloft freaky dancing. (Incidentally, Adey appears to be a ‘close friend’ of Emmy Kate ex-Kenickie, now of The Pictures).

sugar-dusted vocals
indie-oddity popsters

Vermont end with the mighty ‘Two Weeks From Everywhere’, spiky pop with Sabine and Colin trading lines, careering faster and faster until the whole thing is running away with you down a hillside, out of control, a glorious tumult of deranged keyboard spanking and the greatest ‘Wheeooo! Wheeooo!’ backing vocals since ‘Fire Brigade’ by The Move. Colin falls backwards off the front of the stage. The crowd goes wild.

Oh yes, and buy the album, there’s a picture in there of Shaky in full quiffed up glory.

(NB: Photos taken at an earlier gig)

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