Bleeding Knees Club
@ The Delancey
Too-Perfect Garage Pop
Getting ready to play their short tidy set at the IAMSOUND showcase at The Delancey, the members of Australia’s Bleeding Knees Club wore a perfect air of unconcern, and delicately devil-may-care outfits to match. Bassist Jordan Malane’s narrow legged jeans were quite precisely torn at the knee, sheaf of blond hair hiding his eyes. Drummer Matt Woods, a recent addition to the erstwhile duo, sported a t-shirt for the long-running Broadway musical Cats, reprising the band’s collective penchant for wearing the dorkiest ’80s t-shirts they can find. They’ve repped Elton John on cotton before. But the trio isn’t dorky. Guitarist Alex Wall’s must-have ONLY cap could attest to that.
The crowd on this Thursday night, one of their CMJ showcases, was thin and reticent. Pairs of girls with really bad haircuts would sidle up to the front and sort of dance occasionally. But the front was mainly choked with photographers flashing away, so that might have had a chilling effect.
It’s horribly unfair to judge a band by a weeknight showcase at an industry conference, but the row behind the photographers was mostly people texting, a far cry from the wild reports we’ve heard of youthful Australian debauchery.
The buzzy trio played empty-eyed and expressionless in a way that seemed to come very naturally to them, tossing out the odd greeting or masturbation joke between their noisy Beach Boys-meets-The Undertones garage pop tunes. Occasionally, Wall would turn to the speakers and or touch his guitar to the pipes above the small stage to add a little feedback to their fuzz, his coarse, nasal vocals as nasty as they were well-controlled. Their playing style, outfits and the winking cuteness of songs like “Teenage Girls” made you wonder what The Ramones would have been like if they’d formed someplace like Gold Coast, Australia rather than Queens.
At one point, Wall cornered a photographer who had crept onstage, pinning him to the speakers with his guitar as he played. It was more a strange, awkward gesture than playful or aggressive. They ended the set with a polite “Thanks for watching us.” If you didn’t know any better you’d think these soft-faced kids had been cast in their roles, filling spots in a band designed beforehand by a very shrewd auteur. Stranger things have happened. It’s very likely, however, that Wall is that auteur.