10/20/09 - The Earl
During the past decade, indie and punk-rock has moved towards a seriousness and desire for authenticity within their respective genres. Whether it is indie-rock’s attempt to be considered more of an art, or punk-rock’s consistent adherence to its scene, these genres have adapted mindsets leaning towards attempting to be more significant and ‘real’. Given such a movement within the meanings behind music, Art Brut stands as a reminder that music can, in fact, be sincerely entertaining without the need to be taken seriously.
This isn’t to say that Art Brut is a legitimate band, because they most certainly are. But the way in which they perform and carry themselves embodies an ethos that has been missing way too often as of late. Led by frontman Eddie Argos, who reminds me of a combination between The B-52’s Fred Schneider and The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, this British five-piece band remains one of the best examples of true showmanship today. Not only is Argos’s physical presence onstage commanding, as he easily outsized his other band members on The Earl’s small stage, but his witty, tongue-in-cheek lyrical delivery summarizes the ethos in which Art Brut performs each night.
Art Brut demonstrated their swagger and chops continuously throughout the night in Atlanta, opening their set with new single “Alcoholics Unanimous.” Argos, dressed in sloppily professional attire, amusingly depicts the hangover experience as he emphatically offers, “I don't know how long I can keep it hid / I'm having trouble forming sentences,” while yelling out “Bring me tea! / Bring me coffee!” during the chorus. “My Little Brother”—which finds Argos wittingly commenting on his brother getting into rock at a late age, found Art Brut expanding the song to go through his brother’s new “discoveries,” to which they broke down into a classic mini-Ramones groove while the crowd responded “Hey ho let’s go!”
“Modern Art” exemplified Argos’s command of the crowd. After shouting out “modern art / makes me / want to rock out!” repeatedly throughout the song’s chorus, he jumped off the stage and paced throughout the middle of the crowd, animatedly sharing his love of Van Gogh and his experience at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. His earnest and clever musings, combined with his relentless energy, makes this band such a fun act to watch.
As the set continued, Art Brut efficiently ripped through a combination of new songs off their 2009 album Art Brut vs. Satan (“DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes,” “Summer Job,” “The Passenger”), as well as older classics (“Good Weekend,” “Emily Kane,” “Bang Bang Rock & Roll”). While the show only lasted a little over an hour, what became apparent as the show concluded, based on the crowd’s reaction, was that Art Brut’s energy is simply infectious.