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Review

BE YOUR OWN PET/ THE HOT MELTS / SOFT TOY EMERGENCY

Liverpool Academy 2, 25th August 2008 (7/10)

 

If someone had said to me at the beginning of the year that the splitting up of BE YOUR OWN PET would cause me to do anything but shrug, I would have sneered at you at the very least.  Their debut album was good, but it wasn’t amazing.  But this year saw the release of second long-player ‘Get Awkward,’ which turned out to be surprisingly brilliant – full of youthful exuberance, astute lyrics and a real punk-rock spirit.  It showed that they had more depth and plenty to offer. 

 

Perhaps their (still unexplained) Glastonbury no-show should have been a hint that things were amiss.  Still, it was a shock when they announced that they were calling it a day and that their UK shows were going to be the last.  Naturally, it meant getting a ticket to catch them while I could, which took me to Liverpool for their penultimate ever show; a gig that turned out to be a lesson in how something can be so good and so bad at the same time, and not in a deliciously wicked kind of way.

 

SOFT TOY EMERGENCY, supporting, have an interesting sound – Skins-friendly electro-groove, but different enough to keep the Hadouken comparisons at bay.  They just have a thoroughly annoying front-woman, who is a cross between Katie from The Ting Tings and Peaches Geldof.  The stage-school strutting looks contrived and really makes enjoying this band difficult.  Impossible, actually.

 

Ideally, with time passing on and a bank holiday curfew in play, it would have been time for Be Your Own Pet to take the stage.  Unfortunately for everyone, Liverpool atrocity THE HOT MELTS take to the stage.  Can you imagine what the bastard child of Wheatus and Del Amitri would sound like?  No, me neither.  It sounds like aural rape, ladies and gentlemen.  Earnest and whiny, without a saving grace anywhere; I can only hope the Academy 2 is the biggest stage they take to.

And so, eventually, shortly before 10pm, BYOP finally appear, steaming straight into a frenetic set covering a fair few songs from both of their albums.  The hit (‘Adventurer’) is dispensed early on, alongside furious versions of ‘Heart-Throb’ and ‘Twisted Nerve.’  ‘Vacation’ sounds immense – the whole show does.  Strip away the album production and these songs still sounding awesome.  As a punk band, they are accomplished after only two albums, and it’s possible they could have gone much further – the set tonight shows that they’re something a little special.

 

All thirty minutes of it.

 

It simply wasn’t long enough.  It would have been wrong to expect a two hour epic, but more than thirty minutes and really not that many songs is not too much to ask.  That’s complaint number one.  Next – front-woman Jemina is a little cow.  Far from the hero to the alienated teens that comes across in the songs, she’s a demi-diva in waiting.  Anyone who has seen comedy series ‘Summer Heights High’ will know what I mean when I say she’s just like Ja’mie.  She seems much more akin to the type of self-important brats that she mocks in her lyrics.  When another member of the band tries to offer a little farewell speech (this being the penultimate gig and all), she cuts in and demands they play the next song. 

 

Throughout, she behaves in a repugnant fashion.  She berates a fan for saying her name wrong, as if perhaps she thinks she may be infamous.  She’s completely repellent throughout, which is a shame, because she’s an awesome punk singer.  But with her attitude, you can understand why the band won’t carry on.  I’d imagine she has delusions of infamy with a solo career – I can see her being lined up as a punk Avril Lavigne, and the thought scares me a little.   

 

So yeah, a strange gig.  Musically brilliant, but all too short and kind of unpleasant.  I’m glad I went, but I’m not sure I’m going to miss them now they’re gone.