Selling out the Brudenell’s community room is an impressive feat for a band that has only released three songs; the sudden popularity of newcomers Working Men’s Club speaks to the massive amounts of enthusiasm generated around the band and the development of a dedicated Yorkshire fanbase. Their latest single, ‘Teeth’, is the perfect dark disco track; with vague eerie lyrics spoken over pulsing synth and the contagious beat of the drum machine. Their music can be described as post punk revival, heavily influenced by bands such as Talking Heads and Television; yet they have not fallen in the trap of emulating the past and their sound moves beyond simply imitation.
What was first immediately shocking upon arriving at the venue was the age composition of the room. For such a young, fresh faced band you would expect a similarly youthful audience, yet the median age of the room must have been over 40. Initially I assumed I had walked into the wrong room and this was the crowd for the Thurston Moore gig also on that night at the Brude – but I was wrong. The mature crowd seemed more likely to be ageing Sonic Youth fans than there to see the post-punk newcomers. Yet if you consider the fact that Working Men’s club have been a firm favourite of Radio 6 DJs since the release of their single ‘Bad Blood’, their popularity among middle aged men begins to make more sense. And perhaps the inspiration drawn by the band from 70s and 80s new wave arouses a certain nostalgia which appeals to an audience older than your average indie rock gig.
Working Men’s club arrived on stage to raucous cheers. Two songs into their set and the lead singer, Sydney Minsky-Sargeant, fixes the crowd with a disapproving stare and asks “Are you going to move or stay still all night long?” Despite his objections, the audience remains largely stationary.
His performance style drips with confidence as he struts about on stage shirtless, waving a tambourine or hitting a cowbell, with an arrogant charm reminiscent of Jarvis Cocker. As he emulates such self-assuredness and swagger, it really is hard to believe that he is still in his teens.
Briefly between songs he shouts a vague sentiment along the lines of “Fuck the police, up Extinction Rebellion”, the sudden outburst of which confuses rather than arouses the audience in any way.
Overall, the gig proved more than anything the paradoxical curse of being played on Radio 6: you’ll sell out a venue, but no one is going to dance because of their arthritic hips.
[Header image NME]