Public Service Broadcasting Prove It’s Hip to Be Square

Posted on Monday February 22nd in

Public Service Broadcasting :: 2016.02.19 :: Brooklyn Bowl London

Public Service Broadcasting :: 2016.02.19 :: Brooklyn Bowl London
Last Friday the BRIT Awards descended on Brooklyn Bowl London. Fitting, since the BRITs are kind of like the U.K. equivalent to the American Grammy Awards, and Brooklyn Bowl is a good old-fashioned U.S. establishment, albeit one with state-of-the-art technology. The band playing, Public Service Broadcasting, were quintessentially British. So it all made for a rather interesting mix. The crowd was amongst the most punctual ever to attend a gig, and the room was practically full by the time opening act Bad Sounds went onstage. Thankfully, they did not live up to their name. Rather, Bad Sounds actually sounded pretty spectacular, like a cross between Echo and the Bunnymen and New Order, their dual synthesisers working in harmony to create a melodic and hypnotic base for the falsetto-laden vocals to dance over. Keep an eye out for this London duo, they’re as groovy as their dress sense suggests.

The rise of Public Service Broadcasting over the last few years is undeniable proof that it’s hip to be square. But don’t just take our word for it, ask Friday’s sold-out crowd. PSB are the living embodiment of geek chic. They’re also a group you should really see live since the visuals make up around 40 percent of the show. On this occasion, vintage TVs were stacked on top of one another at the front of stage whilst a film projector sprawled across the back. Before the show, a short comedy animation about the perils of using mobile phones at concerts was played, which clearly struck a chord with the audience, as there are no iPhone wankers to be seen. Everyone was there in body and mind, ready to be taken on a journey of sound and vision, with sprinklings of comedy along the way, and the band didn’t disappoint. They opened with “Sputnik,” about the first artificial earth satellite, Sputnik 1, off their latest album, The Race for Space, before taking it back to their debut, Inform-Educate-Entertain (which is clearly still the band’s mantra), with tracks like “The Now Generation” and “Theme from PSB.”
Public Service Broadcasting :: 2016.02.19 :: Brooklyn Bowl London

From there, the set flowed seamlessly as musicians switched among banjos, synthesisers, trumpets, drums, and electric guitars, creating soundscapes both enchanting and accessible. The band’s use of audio and visual broadcast samples was so obvious but inspired, you have to wonder why no one thought of pairing them with commercial music sooner. In that sense, Public Service Broadcasting really are the 21st century’s English answer to Kraftwerk. During the remainder of their hour-long performance, the band treated the crowd to a wide array of songs and accompanying visuals, including “ROYGBIV,” “Spitfire,” and hit single “Go!”

It was clear that the people gathered took the band very seriously, for whenever anyone was heard talking during the night’s more reflective moments, they were promptly given the “Sssshhh!” treatment, which wasn’t to say the mood was serious. Far from it: The band’s use of comedy sound bites had everyone laughing, and when they picked up the pace even the more mature concertgoers threw their rave hands in the air. When Public Service Broadcasting reappeared for their encore, complete with glitter tuxedos and astronaut backing dancers, the musicians received a heroic round of applause. “Gagarin” and “Everest” brought the show to a close, by which point everyone in the crowd was beaming from ear to ear. “Thank you very, very, very, very much,” the band’s computer voice-over man said as they exited. “It’s been a pleasure to play for you, Brooklyn Bowl.” But the pleasure was all ours.
—Matt Stocks| @mattstocksdj

Photos courtesy of Trudi Knight


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