Art Rock n Roll at its best, BODEGA are the Shiny New Models on the Broken Equipment tour in Leeds
Words and Photos – John Hayhurst (@snapagig)
I’ve been wanting to see this band for around 3 years, ever since Spotify threw Jack in Titanic onto my ‘weekly discovery’ playlist, it has remained a most played track for 2 years. The thought that a corporate machine using mathematical algorithms would dictate such a creative gesture would most likely be abhorrent to Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio, their anti device and corporation stance might crumble at the thought of it happening. Nevertheless, my attendance at this gig and the purchase of their latest album Broken Equipment is down to that one flicker of a computer’s 1s and Os.
Tonight at the Brudenell in Leeds they redefined Art Rock, although it’s really impossible to pigeonhole this NYC band into any genre, Hozie would even say “We are really just a rock’n’roll band” which is as real as him also saying “This is the best night of the tour”, do you believe it?, do they say that every night?.
The setlist is a mahoosive 27 songs and includes a Bob Dylan cover of Slow Train there are traces of emotional singing, along with the more distinctive shoutathons set to the drumbeat of Tai Lee and Nikki Belfiglio. I only see Lee’s shocking red hair bobbing up and down behind the cymbals as I’m camped in front of Nikki, slightly mesmerised by her persona, and also due to the fact that there’s no space to move in the sold out Brudenell. I have for company a strange man to my left who just haphazardly decides to bang Hozie’s on stage monitor with his hand in time to the chorus.
My favourite track of the new album is thrown out at 2nd in the setlist. The monumental Statuette on the Console (which should be played loud wherever you are now), features Nikki on main vocals, and its the best song the Ramones never wrote, relentless in its math rock strumming and drumbeat.
Whilst Belfiglio is animated, drumming, wild expression dancing and the odd bit of sample play, Hozie prefers the step forward step back approach, guitarist Dan Ryan is pulling all kinds of shapes on this small stage and bass player ‘The Professor’ Adam See prefers to just nod his head and offer the occasional prophetic statements like “This gig is a straight A”.
“Any Requests?” Hozie asks, someone shouts “Play the hits” which brings a wry smile, “What Hits?…Oh you mean this one” and Jack In Titanic is launched. Crowd singing along and even some bouncing up and down. Elsewhere other highlights were Doers, NYC(disambiguation), How did this happen? and I am not a Cinephile but really the whole set had to be watched and I’m now regretting not catching more than one night on this run.
The closest you might get to a comparison would be a young Talking Heads/LCD Soundsystem/B52’s and a sprinkling of Lou Reed, but to be honest, just don’t bother trying – get this band in your life and don’t wait for a machine to do it for you.
Thrown, Statuette on the Console, Shiny New Model, Stain Glaze, Network, Treasures of the Ancient World, Truth is not a Punishment, Bedega Birth, How Can I Help Ya?, Slow Train, Territorial Call of the Female, Doers, Tarkovski, NYC (Disambiguation), Realism, Warhol, Can’t knock the Hustle, Charlie, Boxes for the Move, Name Escape, No Blade of Grass, Jack in Titanic, Iam not a Cinephile, Everybody’s Sad
Encore: Set the Controls for the Heart of the Drum, All Past Lovers, How Did This Happen?