Is there a more engaging and enjoyable frontman in indie rock than Art Brut’s Eddie Argos? The band has yet to release their second album (It’s A Bit Complicated drops this June – QRO review), yet they have legions of fans and ‘franchises’ – groups who cover their songs (including indie-rockers We Are Scientists). Argos is able to sing about just about anything, from forming the band to erectile dysfunction to Britain’s Top of the Pops, and listeners on both sides of the pond are right there with him. This was certainly the case Wednesday, April 18th, at Brooklyn’s nightclub-cum-venue, Studio B (QRO venue review).
Playing a few dates in America (before heading off to their native U.K. to open for Maximo Park), Art Brut was as sweaty and excited as the packed Studio B crowd. Argos was, of course, the chief sweat-lodger, thanks to his running about on the stage, on the stage riser in the front (which also left the tall Brit literally bumping his head on the hot stage lights), and even among the crowd for most of “Modern Art”. In his loud, conversational, almost mock British accent (which in “Formed a Band”, he assures that, “Yes, this is my singing voice, it’s not irony”), Argos laid down all sorts of pearls of wisdom on the audience (as well as rallying the band before every song with, “Ready, Art Brut!”):
“This next song is called ‘I Will Survive’… It’s not a cover.”
[After “Survive”] “That’s the second time we’ve ever played that song. I can’t dance, so I have no idea what to do then.”
“If you don’t all go home and form a band, I’ll be very disappointed.”
“This next song is about being very lonely in Hamburg. No one likes that.”
“That’s the second time we’ve ever played that before, and I remembered every word.”
And the pièce de résistance, in the middle of “Emily Kane” (his song about how he never got over his first love), he went into his new mid-song rant:
But I changed my mind about the [mid-song rant], because I’ve got lots of people, they say, ‘Stop telling people to forget about their ex-girlfriends!’ Because I met mine recently, and we’re married now, and we have children. And I felt bad, I felt stupid, for misleading you all.
But then I realized, I’m not stupid – you’re stupid! You shouldn’t listen to people in bands! You shouldn’t listen to ‘em! They’re drunk; they’re just showing off. We’re excitable, we’re excited – Don’t listen to us.
So I’m gonna stop stopping this song, ‘cause it’s a bit daft, stopping a song to tell people not to listen to you. But, after today, this is the last time… maybe. Probably not.
Stop listening to people in bands. Ignore what they say! Stop listening to ‘em! Stop listening to ‘em! Stop listening to ‘em!
Unless it’s about getting drunk.
MP3 Stream: "Eddie Argus' Speech"
Art Brut played a mix of about half new material from Complicated, and half off their 2005 debut record, Bang Bang Rock ‘n’ Roll. In general, the more familiar Bang Bang numbers were bigger crowd hits, like “Formed a Band” and “Emily Kane”. “Bad Weekend” is a number that is particularly better live than on the record, while the unable-to-‘perform’ “Rusted Guns of Milan” got people cheering in apprehension, and “Moving to L.A.” got the New York crowd mock-jeering. Pre-encore closer “My Little Brother” was the song you-wanted-to-hear-but-were-afraid-they’d-skipped-it, and Art Brut brought Studio B down with their post-encore return medley of “Good Weekend”/“Top of the Pops”/“Formed a Band”/“Good Weekend”. But there were still some great signs for Complicated, including the pop music-over-girls “Pump Up The Volume” (though it shouldn’t have bumped “Formed a Band” as the set’s opener), the “song about being lonely in Hamburg”, the first Complicated single, “Direct Hit”, and the more thoughtful “Post Soothing Out”. But as long as Eddie Argos is fronting the band and has something to say, Art Brut and their fans have got nothing to worry about.