I've had many friends, over the years, tell me that they don't get Art Brut. My response is always: go see them live. There's something about the band's energy and sense of humor that really shines through in a live performance — hearing the record again after a live show, it always sounds infinitely better. The reason why is that Art Brut have remarkable presence — and presence onstage is half of making music.
"We love playing in Philadelphia!" announces vocalist Eddie Argos, clad in a pink button-up, Saturday night at Johnny Brenda's. "We actually played one of our favorite shows just outside of Philadelphia a few years ago, at a party in Haverford." He pauses, and surveys the crowd. "I have to say…I really don't understand you Americans. You're all like 'oh no, we're not really like this; we're having a frat party ironically.' Meanwhile, I'm doing keg stands…I drink ironically all the time. It's not a problem unless you admit it is!"
The crowd laughs, and Argos grins. Such anecdotes are Argos's trademark, and part of what makes the shaggy-haired Brit so memorable — well, that, and his feisty brand of tongue-in-cheek rock.
"Are you ready Art Brut?" asks Argos of the fivesome before every number, before shouting out a song title ("Moving to L.A.!" "Emily Kane!" "Summer Job!") and launching into a no-holes-barred rendition. Known for their wry lyrics, thrashing melodies and garage-rock sensibilities, the fivesome did not disappoint, offering well-tuned guitar licks and spot-on harmonies.
Their set list included a healthy mix of new and old tracks (off Bang, Bang Rock n' Roll, It's a Little Bit Complicated and the recently-released Art Brut vs. Satan), although early singles ("My little brother"; "Bad weekend") were clear crowd favorites. For their encore, the band kicked things off with an energy-driven rendition of "Formed a band" and the crowd went wild — clapping, dancing, fist-pumping and screaming lyrics — until the entire venue was filled with sweat and energy.