Live Review Strange Boys, Brighton Freebutt

No one wants it to end.

It's now been a year since the Strange Boys signed to Rough Trade, and even less since their last UK show, but it would seem that a lot has changed in such a short period of time. The first to mention is their new drummer, Mike La Franchi. We like Mike.

The 'Boys second album 'Be Brave' was released over here at the end of February, little under a year after their debut '...And Girls Club' hit the shelves. Sounds of said debut still ringing in our ears, 'Be Brave' was a bit of a gear change; moving into slightly darker territory, blues-ier maybe, the band's sophomore record is a step aside from the clangy uptempo, seemingly carefree, rock and roll of their debut. A sign of maturity? Perhaps. Or maybe echoes of a new outlook; after all, a lot has happened in one tiny year.

Taking into account the Strange Boys' sound, the Brighton Freebutt is a perfect venue to put them in: dark, small and hot, the result draws parallels with the Crawdaddy Club. For a change, the girl to guy ratio is pretty just, and a bump 'n' grind feels fit. Feels good, don't it. Tight, hot and sweaty, pressed up against some stranger and moving with the twang of the guitar and the rumble of the slow and steady bass. That's got the groove going.

This crowd reaction is unsurprising; the band created a similar effect at their summer shows of 2009, transforming their tiny packed out venues into southern state blues parties. The greatest part of it all was that all they had to do was play, and the fans took it upon themselves to dance and be the entertainment. It worked back then, as a justifiable shyness seemed to come over the 'Boys as they played. But this time around, they're more confident.

Ryan Sambol, frontman and founder of the group, chats freely between songs. He makes jokes, teases and compliments the ladies: “Brighton seems to have the prettiest girls.” His swagger and ease draws out the confidence in the crowd too: one chick gets up onstage and adjusts his t-shirt sleeves, rolling them up to make him look more like what she'd want. He thanks her and, one song later, rolls them back down. I guess she's not gonna get into this one's pants.

The whole show is leaps and bounds ahead of their last tour. Their comfort reflects upon the audience: it takes two to tango. They seem happy, and bang through their set merrily, alternating between record one and two. No one wants it to end. I doubt even they do. But I reckon that for now, there's no end in sight.

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