@ The Moth
or how I learned to stopped worrying and began to have sympathy for the devil.
Knocking back a few in good company at the ‘Spoons around the corner inevitably tends to lead one to a less than punctual arrival for Brooklyn based Bodega on their third consecutive sold out night at London’s MOTH. Were we trying to wash away memories like castles made of sand on these here fine but mostly stony English shores? Not so! This night was about fortifying for what lay ahead.
With the gig already nearly at capacity, we pushed through the large double swinging doors, a Queen (@Ash_Kenazi) in 6-inch heels at a trot on a treadmill was covering A Flock of Seagulls ‘I Ran’, commandeering all eyes to the stage. Shortly thereafter, said Queen, nearly sets the place alight with some unsanctioned pyrotechnics, a ‘sorry not sorry’ smile stretches across their face as their set closes to a rapturous round of applause (see our ‘gram for video).
I know what you’re probably thinking, ‘CaptainStavros, why hast thou forsaken us? You know it’s rather unlikely for us to see a sold-out gig, let alone one that’s already passed us by!’ To which I counter, hold steady mighty seafarers, and prepare to splice the mainbrace! Bodega shall return to these torpid and exit-y lands come November, mark your almanac! What to do in the interim? Fear not, gotcha covered. If you’re not already familiar with Bodega’s discography, Broken Equipment , their latest, is a good place to start. The fun doesn’t end there though, because these lot have fingers deep in multimedia pies. Did you know they’ve also waded into Film? PVT Chat, the band’s venture into the A/V forum, along with their music videos, are also a great way to familiarize yourself. At the very least, you might even indulge us by continuing to read this janky review? If it’s the latter you seek, strap-in as we sail out, three sheets to the wind.
Ben, Nikki, Dan, Adam and Tai take to the stage and make their way into the DJ booth for a quick scrum before their set. Eyes shifting between themselves like a cat clock on a wall, their arms extended before them. I see their lips moving and squint straining my hearing to the edge of some obscure spectrum just out of range, trying to grasp at whatever sorcery they’re conjuring up. It’s fruitless but the audience is no less spellbound. As they throw their arms back in graceful arcs skyward and break-up, the audience erupts as they take their standing positions on stage. It – is – on. I cannot remember what Ben was speaking into the mic because all I can see is Tai in front of her drums a la Poison Ivy, from head to toe in green and red. When I come to Ben’s singing, ‘please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste’. Well sirs and madams, we are certainly pleased to meet you and everyone for sure knows your name in this crowd.
As the band finishes up their introduction, a cover of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones, I toss a few glances around the room. The audience is varied but the majority, to my surprise, are old enough to have probably caught Mick and the boys in their up-and-coming heyday. Next to me, a bespectacled, hedonistic, silver-locked lass, arms extended, firmly gripping a stage PA for leverage, grinds her posterior like a mortar and pestle on an elderly gent behind her, like something out of Sodom and Gomorrah, ‘Territorial Call of the Female’ indeed!
By track two, ‘Leg of Birth’, Dan ‘Secret Agent’ Ryan has popped his A string and Tai has worked herself into a lather beating the, pardon me, absolute FUCK out of the skins. Meanwhile an audience member is holding the mic stand steady for Ben, and throughout Nikki riles up the crowd locking her sights, and drumsticks, firmly at them. The band is holding steady for us as we lose our collective shit. For me, Bodega has always just meant a meatball sub and a bottle of Blue Moon on a sweltering summer’s day on the lower east side. Halfway through this set, it’s taken on a new meaning, High School Battle of the Bands winners meet Cruise Ship band, on the last leg of their tour coming into port; bedlam. This crew is absofuckinglutely relentless. They said that James Brown was the hardest working man in showbiz, but I think it’s safe to say these lot are creeping up on the caped Godfather of Soul’s heels. It’s the third consecutive night at the MOTH and peering down Nikki’s keyboard for the setlist (scrawled on a packet of hummus), I realize it’s well into the double digits. While the show went on forever, Adam’s singular glance is unflinching throughout though and Nikki manages to bounce between her rig and Tai’s, when she’s not sprawled out on the stage floor banging on a tambourine. As the evening’s pace ebbs and flows, notes of Parquet Courts can be heard in Ben’s vocals (specifically ‘Master of my Craft’).
I don’t think anyone can really argue with the statement that Bodega is currently blowing up. I don’t remember the last time any seasoned performer sold out, or even cared to play that many, consecutive nights in a row. Can you imagine doing anything that exhausting three nights in a row with any zeal at all? I couldn’t. Even so, after getting a few candid words before and after the set (cats/Twin Peaks/broken guitar strings as good omens and hummus), I got down-to-earth vibes from a group currently rocketing to the top of the charts on the tail end of a comet. There was that casual and friendly overfamiliarity that, as a North American myself, I miss most from back home. Although at this point in history, a travelling band is hardly in frontier territory, it’s no less foreign. These lot have a lot of self-awareness and a loose shouldered impermanence to them. The casual and cosmic teeter-totter that governs our lives tends to flip-flop, and that understanding really comes across in their tunes. ‘It’s a new world now, don’t discriminate. Everyone is equally a master and slave. It's new world now, don't discriminate’. Would recommend buying the ticket and taking the ride with Bodega because we never know how long any of it’ll last.