Peach Pit’s London show at Moth Club was a night of juxtaposition. You see, right now Peach Pit are at the cult-y, viral stage of burgeoning popularity, where their tour venues are no more than spruced up pubs but are also absolutely packed to the rafters. That phenomenon of a big-small band.
Thinking in intimacy and atmosphere terms, there probably isn’t a better moment in their musical career to go see Peach Pit. And they’re touring virtually everywhere so consider this your official tip-off.
If you need a briefing, Peach Pit are “chewed bubble-gum pop”: that’s jangly, fuzzy rock ‘n roll with crooning vocals and shoe-gaze overtones. They’re just over a year old, and their recent explosion via Youtube now has them pegged as a potential big thing (and it must be legit – they’ve just quit their ‘real’ jobs!). Being So Normal, their debut LP possibly even exceeds their hype. For more background, get stuck into my artist feature here.
Arriving a healthy hour before the main act start time, we bumped into Chris Vanderkooy (guitars), the Ned Flanders look-alike, hovering outside in an equally Flanders-esque manner making awkward small talk with gig-goers. This was followed by a rather indifferent security guard and a deserted front bar.
Needless to say it was therefore a bit of a shocker to enter the main space and find it totally jam-packed. It was physically impossible to move about a foot from the door. Peach Pit fans don’t kid around.
The opener were Blackaby, who from my sleuthing, seem to have played their first ever live show about 8 days ago, so they’re a good one if you were looking for the literal cutting edge of new music. You’d probably be their third fan, after their mums.
Overlooking the fact that the cult of Peach-Pit-craving youth were at best indifferent and at worst impatient, it was an excellent, buzzy choice, generating a folksy-cum-pop vibe with very cohesive vocal harmonies. They even managed to get a little ripple out of the embryonic mosh pit.
The sweaty impatience shifted to a pervasive electricity as Peach Pit’s set time grew near – think cheering and shoving every time, there was a lull in the background music. It was unfitting and amusing that various members of the band kept having to dash back and forth through the audience due to Moth Club’s absence of backstage entrances. The die-hard teenage girls seemed almost at a loss of how to respond when their much deified singer wandered past a few times.
After some faffing, the unmistakably odd four piece took to the stage, and did a quick mini sound-check along to the Whitney Houston that was still blasting – accidentally – over the speakers. It was undoubtedly the weirdest cover-cross-karaoke of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” that I have ever witnessed.
A riotous opener of “Drop The Guillotine” reminded us why we were sweating off half our body weight in an over-capacity ex-British Legion room in Hackney (if you haven’t been, Moth Club feels a bit like the village hall in Gavin and Stacey where they host Gwen’s surprise party).
The wild guitar riffery was superb in the flesh, with just the right amount of deviation from the recording. This and most other songs were (wisely) slightly sped up to tailor them to live consumption and it worked a treat.
Opener over, the momentary pause and small talk allowed us to take a proper look at the group. They’re an unusual bunch. They wear the same clothes for every live show, allegedly trying to look like “little gentlemen” or “children dressed up for a party” – think pastel sweaters and dungarees. This is uncomfortably strange when complimented by lanky rocker locks.
Vanderkooy’s absolutely odd moustache was an aesthetic all of its own. Neil Smith (vocals) wore his guitar securely in his armpits and smiled slightly leerily whilst telling prolonged stories about his band-mates, including a faux pas involving bassist Peter Wilton seeing Smith’s mum’s nudes on an ipad.
Hair-waving, embarrassing dancing and somewhat cringe-y anecdotes continued throughout the set. It was actually entirely refreshing to see a group behave so genuinely; Peach Pit are just unabashedly lame. It is quite baffling that this set of oddities produce such palatable music.
The album was recreated with admirable integrity – Vanderkooy soloed fairly flawlessly even whilst wedging his way into the sticky crowds. “Techno Show” and “Chagu’s Sideturn” (which we were informed was about snorting crystal meth off of a man named Chagu’s knuckles) created chaos; I incurred an elbow-to-the-eye.
“Tommy’s Party” instantly dissipated the mosh pit, but their efforts to please fans always seemed to come second to doing whatever the hell they felt like.
The final encore – after a ‘departure’ into what we all knew was actually just a cupboard on the side of the stage – was a cover of “Johnny B Goode“, to honour Chuck Berry’s passing, and proved really just the ultimate showcase of Vanderkooy’s prowess. The extensive instrumental ending acted as a fitting and chaotic close to a loveably weird and sweaty evening.
Words by Immy Hequet
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