Vocalist and guitarist David Gedge brought his jangly indie-pop band The Wedding Present from 80’s Leeds to present day Brooklyn for a night of wild rhythms, meaty harmonies, and careening crescendos. Back in 1986, the band was one of many featured on the NME’s infamous C86 cassette tape compilation, alongside Primal Scream, The Mighty Lemon Drops, The Pastels, and The Shop Assistants, and they are still at in some thirty years later years. The influence of the C86 still reigns strong, as evidenced by the runaway success of countless revivalist bands, many of which are championed currently by record labels like Captured Tracks, Kanine Records, and Slumberland.
Beloved by the late DJ legend John Peel, The Weddoes’ sound cleverly balances the post-punk vibe of their Northern UK 80’s contemporaries, such as The Fall and Gang of Four, with the stylish, colorful pop of Orange Juice, The Smiths, and Glasgow’s Postcard Records’ roster, influencing indiepop bands for decades to come. Since its inception, the band has certainly gone through quite a few changes, as they have engaged in more personnel replacements than I can count. However, Gedge has been the sole enduring and architectural member since the beginning, much like how Mark E. Smith IS The Fall. Apart from his detour with his chamber pop side project Cinerama in the late 90’s through the early oughts, the band has forged ever forward, while still staying true to the noisy indie pop roots of their pivotal mid-80’s albums like George Best, Tommy, and Bizarro. Also unfailing over all these years is Gedge’s lyrical prowess, that is almost always those heart wrenching tales of unrequited love and secret romance gone very, very wrong, laced together with passionate emotions anyone with a heart can relate to. Close to 100% of his lyrics are about affairs, cheating, and jealousy, which often makes for more serious misery and bitterness than any drunk crooning country-singer could conjure.
Opening the show was the daydreaming, alt-rocking, dope smoking, and slyly slacking Colleen Green. I’ve been a big fan of hers for years, as her stripped down, low-fi, indie poppin’ sound always feels so easy to take another hit off of. On her previous releases, she has bled that that distinctively early 1990’s Kathleen Hanna DIY appeal, albeit with a far more dazed and confused direction. She always reminded me of numerous other female-led rocks acts from that awesome period of alt-rock past, with whiffs of everyone from Liz Phair to Veruca Salt, or, as someone next to me during the show put it, “she’s like the Go-Go’s covering the Ramones,” which actually isn’t that bad of a description. Still, every time I’ve seen her before, she has played in supremely stripped-down fashion, usually taking the stage with just a pair of thick sunglasses, guitar, mic, and often some little synth machine propped on a stool, along with the occasional addition of a drummer for a couple songs, as she would then crank out her particularly nihilistic view of teen drama with a distinctive retro bubblegum gloss. However, this time out on the road, she has coming packing an ensemble of killer musicians which includes Mannequin Pussy/Low Fat Getting High drummer Kaleen Reading, which she has aptly called the Colleen Green Band. This is definitely a result of last year’s self-titled EP release which did sounded fuller and more aggressive in arrangement, but this stellar band definitely expanded the hell out her previous raw and rough material while still retaining all the catchy hooks and silly slacker sensations that has made her such a modern day indie princess.
“This next one is the best pop song you’ll hear tonight,” said Gedge as he launched into the band’s shimmering new track “Rachel.” The set was indeed full of many new songs that have carried a bit more of an experimental edge, but that was alright by me, because they all effortlessly held up to that wondrously frantic rhythm rocket fuel that has always propelled his music into the stratosphere. David Gedge is, after all, hands down one of the most domineering and kick-ass rhythm guitarists in rock history, indelibly making his mark on the fast strummy stylings of Unrest’s Mark Robinson and many others, and thusly he just can’t help but breaking out into the most glorious of jams no matter what songs he was playing. They did pepper the classics throughout the set to keep the oldie fans happy, with master-pop-pieces like “Give My Love to Kevin” and “A Million Miles” from their 1987 debut George Best, as well as other early tracks like “Kennedy,” “Dare,” and even “Dalliance,” which is the most gorgeous track off of their Steve Albini-produced Seamonsters album from 1991. However, there was precious little from their transitional in-between period, with the blissful exception of one of my favs “Interstate 5.” There was the unexpected inclusion of an old B-side with The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience cover of “Mothers,” that Gedge had apparently never played live before Brooklyn, but he apparently dusted off for some New Zealanders in the sold-out crowd. Before the last number, he reminded the crowd, “If you ever have ever seen us before, you known that we never do encores,” and that really never bothered me. I feel too many bands use the encore as that predictable habitual third act crutch, and when you rock as hard as The Wedding Present, there really is no time to limp into a needlessly cheesy epilogue, as being an indiepop icon is quite enough of an acknowledgment for David Gedge.
Article: Dean Keim