Live Review

George Washington’s Penis, Buffalo Bar, London

Their lead singer looks an awful lot like Kip from Pains Of Being Pure At Heart…

Rumour has it, George Washington had a monumental penis – the Washington Monument, if you so will. So if you’re going to name your band after a legendary manhood, you had better not be letting your ego write cheques that your phallus can’t cash. And forgive me for being worried, but when your bio reads thus, it might be safe to suggest you’re not taking this pop music lark seriously: “Asked to describe their sound lead singer Chip said “USA! USA! USA! Touch my dong!” before falling over sideways.”

Friday night, and the Buffalo bar is full of expectant looking thirty somethings lamenting the lack of any beer on draught, young scenesters looking over excited, all over a band that, bar their bio, I can find out nothing with which to prepare myself for the night (a quick search on Google has revealed that “George Washington now shares a penis with Lady Gaga” though, and it’s on the internet so it must be true). As their roadies cram a mass of keyboards and effects pedals on the stage, the crowd starts chanting “USA!” over and over, have we accidentally gatecrashed some kind of Frat Party in Islington? All that appears to be missing is a Keg in the corner…

When George Washington’s Penis do finally take to the stage, their lead singer looks an awful lot like Kip from Pains of Being Pure At Heart. And, how unoriginal, they’ve got a keyboard player who looks just like Peggy. This is ridiculous, even the drummer bears a striking resemblance to… hang on a cotton picking minute, either this is some kind of “Stars In Their Eyes Fortuna Pop Special”, or tonight, Matthew, the Pains of Being Pure At Heart are actually playing in the tiny Buffalo Bar, just one night after packing the crowd in at Heaven.

The bar fills with feedback, perhaps George Washington’s Penis are a tribute act who look like they’re Pains Of Being Pure At Heart but are actually going to do a cover of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and Matthew Kelly has properly fucked up. Fortunately, once the bass amp is sorted, the band start up and it’s genuinely immense. Playing a heady mixture of old and new and really really old, any slight cooling of our love affair with Pains / Penises after the previous evening’s minor imperfections quickly melts away.

‘Young Adult Friction’ almost causes a riot tonight, we know that we’re expected to just shuffle our feet in a manner befitting avid listeners of Sarah Records, but instead there is a mosh pit, a genuine mosh pit, at the front. ‘Come Saturday’ is the perfect combination of shoegaze-esque jangling guitars and harmonious ooo-ing, with Kip and Peggy almost being drowned out by the crowd. ‘This Love is Fucking Right!’ has the everyone with fists pumping the air in unison, it’s a beautiful sight. Sweat is pouring off the band, off the crowd, off the walls. Pains / Penises are animated, smiling broadly, interacting, breaking off for thank you messages to friends in the crowd who have baked vegan cakes for them.

The crowd and the size of the venue doesn’t allow for the convention of leaving the stage and hiding in a dressing room before an encore, so Pains / Penis’ simply don’t do it, and instead, after thanking everyone that’s ever helped them (“Sean, Sean’s girlfriend, various sofa’s we’ve known”), launch head first into epic early single, ‘Kurt Cobain’s Cardigan’. They’ve held us in rapture all evening, and perhaps most importantly, shown the likes of The Strokes that it is genuinely possible, even in this age of the internet, Twitter and message boards, to keep a secret gig just that. Secret.

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