Bardens Boudoir is a funny old joint. For starters it seems to be missing an apostrophe and it's half way down Stoke Newington Road, making it a bugger to get to. Worst of all, for what is ostensibly a gig venue, the layout is so counterintuitive it beggars belief. Fumble down the narrow stairs and everything seems hunkydory - lots of room, alcoves for beer and chat, space at the bars - and then you see the stage. Slap bang in the middle of the narrow room, the floor in front can just about stand 15 people deep and 10 across. There's no slope neither and the thick, solid red pillars stand firm at the corner of the stage so forget about getting a decent side view.
Huddle into the centre or you'll be doing serious amounts of neck craning, head bobbing and the old lean-to all night.
Pens didn't disgrace themselves, but the stop-starty, yelp-heavy, low-fi indie stylings are starting to sound a bit tiresome and over done. Lacking heart, warmth or much to say, ears remained unpricked. Wavves fared a lot better, mixing smooth California drone-rock and slick Strokes-esque vocals.
The headliners sounded tight enough, with gloom-heavy rock stylings and brownie points by virtue of the leader singer boasting a rich baritone and still looking about twelve years old. To some ears he bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the Crash Test Dummies lead singer (or Editors to bring the reference up to date) though musically they were more subtle than those bombastic anthem mongers. At times they resonated like a modern day Beta Band, but they failed to pack a truly heady punch, and the audience remained unmoved in their alcoves.
(Nearly all the) words by Adam Richmond and (a few) Chloe George.
Image from Jonny Leather's photostream under the Creative Commons Licence.